I'M HOME!!! ...finally home...
I'm home I'm home I'm home!!!!!!
Now, I ask myself: What exactly do I mean by 'home' anyway??
Well, first of all, I'm talking about the United States versus the Middle East. There's something about our ground that feels like home, and that feeling is ever-more profound with the longer absence.
I felt myself breathe -- breath with no explosions -- breathe with no generator noise -- breathe in a hug, a long one, OUT OF UNIFORM, without giving a damn what anyone else thought or who was watching or about getting back to my ever-so-important, Uncle-Sam-waits-for-none job -- breathe in love -- breathe hope -- breathe home -- B R E A T H E -- calm -- weep randomly -- shed anxiety -- shed fear -- shed every-other-word cussing -- ring in the New Year -- ring in some other random midnight with a glass of wine and good company -- WEAR GIRL CLOTHES!! -- take a bath -- carry a purse (but not a gun) -- use eye shadow -- walk to the bathroom naked -- feel carpet between my toes -- dance in the living room -- sing in the shower -- wear whatever I want to exercise -- eat great cheese and drink great wine -- hug my best friends -- play the piano (ah, ecstasy!) -- kiss the ground -- breathe -- breathe in this air that is so much home and so distinctly not war -- breathe with no explosions -- breathe with no generator noise -- know that I never have to go back -- ever
Choking up. Tears come not unwanted. So glad I'm home. So glad I can look up from this and see beautiful Mary across the room, working at her own desk, productive and powerful and beautiful.
This is the schedule we followed to leave our duty assignments and come home...
- 25 December -- Left Iraq on Christmas Day (what a great gift), arriving in Kuwait
- 26 December -- Wheels up from Kuwait to Ft. Dix, New Jersey, via stops in Budapest (fuel only) and Shannon Ireland (two hour break in the Shannon Airport)
- 26 December -- Landed on US soil, frustrated/overwhelmed that my miscalculations about time, months before, now meant that Mom was at the MLA conference in D.C. when I landed, unable to contact me or reunite
- 26-27 December -- traveled by bus at the control-freak insistence of our brilliant leadership from Dix to Camp Atterbury, Indiana (12 hourse)
- 27-29 December -- expedited processing plan for exit processing and out-briefings (started two hours after arriving on the overnight bus trip, by the way)
- 30 December -- bus to Indianapolis airport (3 a.m.), fly to Minneapolis, but to Montevideo, MN (southwestern rural town)
- I must mention at this point that there was an incredible reception by the local population upon our return. The local radio station was making a big deal of the hometown hero thing, and the rural roads entering the town were lined with people waving signs and flags for the five miles approaching the city limits, as well as peppered along the in-town parade-esque route we followed. I'll make another post about this experience -- absolutely incredible.
- 30-31 December -- "Home Station" activities, briefings, 'Welcome Home' ceremony, ad more chaplain briefs. Again, due to a timeline shifted considerably earlier than anticipated, I had no family at this event. It was ok with me in concept -- we ALL hate those bullshit events anyway -- but I couldn't wait to see them, didn't realize how much my stomach was in my throat, until it wasn't anymore -- Mary showed up to pick me up and WHAT A REUNION! (Check out her post about this whole process.)
- 31 December -- drive the five hours back to northern Minnesota, talking, catching up, holding, breathing -- ring in the New Year at Bridgid's Cross Pub in Bemidji with Abe, Jenn, and James
We laughed, cried, had an impromptu Christmas celebration and dinner, packed up, rested up... Then Mary, Brad, James and I left for Indiana.
I'm at Purdue now! I'm taking two undergraduate classes and still trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to get this tuiion reduced down from non-resident (ouch!) rates that I'm nonetheless willing to pay. I'm excited to be here; I'm keeping the pace at a "slow" sprint -- you know, slow enough to feel myself breathe, but just barely -- typical me, and I'm ok with that. What I know is that I'm not dulling my senses -- I'm taking home in, to its fullest extent. I wouldn't miss this for the world! I finally get to breathe. I'm finally home. thank you all for all of your support, prayers, and love across the miles. It will never be forgotten.