by Brittany Merriman The day had finally come: our first disaster team was set to leave from headquarters on a month-long deployment.
As I stood in the large office, watching those who were to be left behind give the departing team exuberant well-wishes, I thought of how far we'd come: a group of young adults who were by and large complete strangers less than 3 months ago were now saying goodbye to each other the way old friends often do. Contrasted with the slightly awkward yet puppy-sincere greetings we had given each other the first days we'd met, the current heart-felt goodbyes going on around me was even more notable.
One team leader presented the leaving group with a loaf of homemade bread, and jokes were made about holiday care-packages ("We're sending you turkey and cranberry MRE's and nothing else" and "I swear I'll include at least two bags of peppermint patties, you fiend!").
The sincerity of the hugs exchanged was heartening. I myself happily chimed in a few "You're going to do wonderfully" and "Please don't forget to send me updates!" to my newest set of friends, and all around the room the sentiments were echoed independently and without irony. What struck me the most, however, was that although we were undoubtedly parting ways with friends, the atmosphere was not sad, but far from it: the room had the encouraging feeling of friends building each other up before a grand adventure.
As the team was given a final wave-off, I thought that certainly the short span of time in which our friendships had been forged and the brightness with which they burned meant that this team had become more than simple friends: the months of living, working, playing, and learning together had made us nothing less than a family.