It's been a little over a week since I left the daily violence of Iraq. When deployed, you're allotted fifteen days in twelve months for rest and recooperation. I just happened to be one of the very last to leave, at the tail end of the deployment. I didn't go home like nearly everyone else since I figured it'd be too hard to leave my family and friends behind again to come right back to Iraq. Before we left in June 2006, I was ignorant of the emotions you carry around that place. Almost a year later, I know all too well.
So I opted to take a cross-continent trip all over Europe with my good friend Steve. With the exception of Kuwait and Iraq, I had never visited a foreign country, though I always ached to escape the confines of American borders. Thus far, I have traveled through The Netherlands, Belgium and France. I can't adequately describe what it feels like to stand on the beaches of Normandy, to see where many men died in a battle that mattered while the gears of war scarcely tremble in the region I was in just under a week ago.
I'm writing this from an internet cafe in Geneva, Switzerland. I don't plan on staying here past tonight, though. This is a major junction to Italy, where I had wanted to spend the most time on my trip. Tomorrow we're boarding a train to Milano, then the next day we're pressing on to Rome for four days. After that, I go back to Iraq, to join other nameless cogs, as the war machine keeps on turning.