My life as a military child: Terrible internet connection that keeps us together

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My life as a military child: Terrible internet connection that keeps us together

by: Erin “El J” Reyes, 9th Grade, Edgren High School | .
Edgren High School | .
published: March 31, 2015

As a military child, we go through a lot. The story I’m about to tell you is an example of what we go through. From long-distance relationships to adaptation, I can actually say we are pretty strong people. I feel like we have more appreciation than anybody else, because even if many emotional ties get taken away from us, and we aren’t that independent in certain things, we’re still happy with what we have. It’s not what we wanted, but it’s all that we needed. And to be honest, I think this life is actually what I wanted, even if I don’t get the things I want. Because as far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t want to trade this life for anything else. Even for better internet connection.

"Hey! How’s your day?”

Every day after school, I would hear those sweet words compiled into two sentences slip out from his mouth at exactly 8:28 in the evening. To you, they’d be normal, everyday words. To me, they’d be choppy, lagging words due to terrible internet connection.

“Great, I guess. Yours?” I’d reply.

“Nah, we’ll talk about my day later. What did you do today?” he would ask.
 
And that would be the part where I’d tell him about my day. It would take me about 5 minutes or so to explain everything, but usually it would go beyond that since 1) I have short-term memory loss and 2) as I’ve mentioned before, terrible internet connection.

By 8:33, I’d be finished talking about my day, and I would ask him about his. His stories would usually take much longer than mine, because that boy is a straight-up socialite. But even so, he’s a humble guy. I’ve known him since 6th Grade, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s still the sweet, patient guy I met years ago.

“Oh, so another girl likes you, eh?” I would tease. Every day, it seems that a new girl would join his club of fangirls.

“Oh, stop it. How many guys have liked you today?” he would tease back, blushing from what I said a while ago.

“Only one! Not like you, who has dozens!” I’d exclaim. Yup. You can call me and my best friend “heartthrobs” because every year, at least 3 people would like us. I don’t actually know why, though. I’m not much of a talking-type compared to him.

And then he’d laugh at exactly 8:37 for about 4 seconds. Is it creepy that I know exactly how the conversation goes? You may think it’s weird, but I’ve repeated this process every day for about 5 months already. I think you’d be bored to death by now that you’d have no choice but to count how many seconds before your best friend says his next line.

“We miss you, you know?” he’d tell me.

“I miss you guys, too,” I’d reply back sadly. “But you know what I don’t miss?”

“What?”

“Bills. School tuition fees. All those debts, gone! In fact, I get free college when I graduate from high school!” I’d brag.
 
“Well, that’s not fair,” he’d mutter, frowning.
 
“Military perks,” I’d wink at him.

“Oh yeah? Well, do you know what’s not a perk?”

“What?”

“You Military Brats move around a lot, and you earn and lose friends every single year.”

Harsh? No, it’s not. He spoke the truth. I’d frown and look down at my watch. 8:39. He needs to eat dinner soon. And at that moment, his phone would ring. It’d be his mom telling him to go and eat dinner. See? I told you I knew how things would go.

“Hey, I need to eat dinner,” he’d announce with a hint of guilt.

“No worries. I need to finish my homework anyway,” I’d reply happily.

There, he would promise to eat as fast as he could, and then he’d end the call. Oh, how much I hate the time difference between our countries. I’d be sleepy by 8:45. He won’t call till about 9:45. As much as he says he’s a fast eater, he’s really not.

By 9:45, my eyelids would feel heavy. As I’d close my eyes, a familiar Skype call ringtone would jolt me awake. I’d answer it and see his lovely face again. Only this time, I can only see his silhouette thanks to my droopy eyelids. The lights would already be off in my room, and my parents would be asleep by now. Sigh, the sacrifices I make for this boy.

“Aww, you’re sleepy, aren’t you?” he’d ask, looking a tad disappointed.

“Sorry,” I’d apologize.

“Don’t worry. I know you had a tough day. It’s not easy being socially awkward,” he’d say, winking.
 
“Oh, shush. You don’t know anything about being socially awkward!”

And that’s where he would mumble to himself. I swear I heard him say, “If only you knew.”

“What?” I’d ask him to repeat what he said.

“Nothing,” he’d reply back just to brush off the topic.

“C’mon, tell me!” I’d insist.

“It’s just that… ever since you left, I have no one to hang out with. It seems that everyone’s ignoring me nowadays, and I can’t help but miss you even more when they tell me to go away.”

I’d feel sad at that moment, but let me explain to you that this is generally the conversation we have every day. I’m not saying everything mentioned before happens each time we video chat, but it’s kind of the gist of it, you know?

I would reply back again, but his camera froze, meaning only one thing: the call dropped. I groaned and tried connecting to him again. It usually took about 2 minutes to call him back.

“Hey, sorry. It’s probably my wi-fi,” he’d apologize.

“Yeah, it’s alright. And hey, I miss you too, but don’t you worry! We’re only freshman! You’ve got the rest of high school to make friends!” I’d try to comfort him as best as I could, but it always fails. Curse you, my lack of social skills!

But since he’s such a good friend, he’d smile anyway. “I think the only friend I want is you, but even the military can’t let us be together.”

“Hey, don’t say that! I love the military! I love traveling the world and meeting new people! It’s just that not every advantage in life is always 100% good.”

“I know, I know. I’m proud of your dad serving the country, and all.”

“I’m proud of him, too. And hey?”

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for being my friend even if we’re miles apart. I’ve never actually met someone like you before. You’re a good friend, dude.”

He’d smile at a remark like that, because he knows that when I give compliments, I’m serious. I’m not the type to lie.

“Right back at you. Can’t wait for you to visit us! We’ll be waiting.”

And after that, we’d have a random conversation. Occasionally, we’d play a game of Monopoly or “Would you Rather?” I can’t tell you how hard it is to play Monopoly with him, though. Imagine having to roll the die, pick a card, give and pay money to the bank, and move a character of someone through a screen. My poor hand’s been cramping ever since the last time we played.

11:13. I’d be falling asleep on him multiple times by now. He’d tell me to go to sleep. I’d tell him that I didn’t want to leave him. He’d tell me he’d be alright since he was such a good friend. I’d laugh and fall back asleep.

“Hey… you have to go to sleep. You have school tomorrow,” he’d remind me.

“I’m aware of that,” I’d mumble sleepily.

“Sleep? For me?” he’d beg. “I care about you. You need your rest.” Sweet guy, isn’t he? Best person I’ve ever met. If he ever gets a girlfriend, she’d be so… lucky.

Eventually, after falling asleep for 7 times now, I’d let him win at 11:21. I never ended the call first. I usually let him do it. I don’t like ending the call, because whenever I do, I feel horrible. Ending the call is like waking up from a beautiful dream- heartbreaking.

“You sure?” I’d ask, my eyes slowly closing again. He nods his head at this point. I’d sigh and let him win once more. “Fine, good night.”

“Good night! Sweet dreams!” he’d reply happily.
 
“G’night,” I’d say again.

“What?”

“Huh?”

“What did you just say?”

“I said ‘g’night’.”

“Ohh, sorry. You were lagging.”

“Oh, our terrible internet connection,” I’d say, laughing.

“Even if it sucks, it still does its job right.”

“And what job is that?”

“Keeping us together.”

I’d smile. “You flirt. Good night.”

“Good night.”

Call ended at 11:24 p.m. I’d set my laptop down from my bed onto the ground. It’s basically the same process all over again. Grab the stuffed animal he gave me before I moved, hug it, give it a little kiss, and wish that he knows that even if I’m miles apart, I kind of still have a little limmerent feeling towards him, but he doesn’t need to know that, right? It won’t probably work out anyway. I like the way everything is. I like his pixelated face on the screen. I like his choppy sentences, even the terrible internet connection! The terrible internet connection that, and I quote, “Keeps us together.”

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