Being in the Navy or in the military in general encompasses the ever present requirement of moving from place to place based on the needs of the respective organization. While I am pretty sure this is something that happens in the civilian workforce, I would be hard stretched to believe that it happens as often. In the Navy on average this tends to happen at least every 3 - 5 years but in my own case it has felt like I've done this just about every 2 - 3 years within in my 13 years in. I have been lucky enough to actual keep my family in one place for 3 1/2 years but here again we find ourselves preparing to move as I leave shore duty and head back to a ship.
Moving or just transferring from a command always brings about saying goodbye to friends and co-workers. As my wife will attest I am not exactly the most social person. When I was younger I would call myself a shy/people person (I make friends easily but I tend to not initiate and keep to myself) but in my more senior years you might as well just call my grumpy. I will be the old guy yelling at the kids to get out of my yard (Mr. Wilson is my idol). So with this I have always had friends at work with various levels of closeness but the truly close friends have always been far and few between.
Without a doubt my wife, Amanda, is my best friend but there is always the things that are hard to explain or share (though she does a good job of trying). Some of this is a simple as trying to understand what I going through with the Navy or as simple as guy humor (She thinks its absurd how mean we seem to be to each other - I use to tell my guys in the division that if I wasn't make fun of them then it probably meant I didn't care anymore). Having guy friends that go through the same experiences as me gives me that chance to blow off steam or just complain about the Navy in general (Disclaimer - As a Chief Petty Officer, I have absolutely no complaints about the Navy, it's a perfect organization - As a sailor, I wonder some days how we are the best navy in the world).
For anyone familiar with the military there is always some level of camaraderie between the troops, whether they be soldiers or sailors. No matter how much we sometimes hate and despise each other when it comes down to it, we are family. Because of this mindset and environment of working and sometimes living together you develop some really good friendships. This sometimes leads to lasting friendships and sometimes not so much.
My recent shore duty was surprisingly different. I found myself developing some really close friendships with two of the other chiefs there, Evan and Ron. I found myself not just talking about work and the Navy but talking about our families. I found myself genuinely wanting to hang out and get our families together. I found myself asking for advice not just about my career but about my family life. I can honestly say that I felt that I had made some really good friends. I actually find myself hoping we all stay in touch vice just waiting for our paths to cross again. This is mostly surprising because I am kind of that anti-making friends person. I genuinely felt sad that I was transferring and moving on to another state. I also found myself feeling like I should say a little something before leaving on my last day of work. I mistakenly followed this impulse and got the following response from my buddies, "What are you going to cry??" and "Don't worry, whatever you do you are going to fail". That is true friendship right there.
Maybe as I am getting older I am getting a little bit wiser and willing to accept friendships. Maybe grumpy old man is not necessarily the lifestyle for me. So kids, you don't necessarily have to get out of my yard but you better be willing to listen to my boring Navy stories (and mowing the yard every once in a while wouldn't hurt either).