It's a strange concept to me, being home ten months, yet I left for Iraq more than two years ago. To put that into perspective, I got on that big, beautiful plane as a clueless twenty year old. This week, I'll be turning 23.
These days, I have a less deadly (and therefore less exciting) job in a warehouse. A regular 9-5 until I wait for school to start. I was always a quiet guy, never really the kind to strike up a conversation with someone I didn't know well. Introverted as all get out.
Lately, I feel that personality trait rearing its head again. I thought it was gone; anyone from my platoon can tell you that I absolutely loved to debate anyone and anything with my partner in crime, Steve. We were an arguing force to be reckoned with, and I always carried a big voice when we discussed everything from capital punishment to evolution.
Now in the break room, civilian as hell, I can barely muster a hello or keep a conversation going. It's not shyness, it's a breakdown of understanding the culture I left and readjusting to it. While deployed, we knew society moved on without us. What we didn't realize is that it would keep going even after we got home, still without us.
The two dueling wars, fought by neighbor's cousins and friends from high school, have little to do with day to day life. When I tell someone where I was the past two years, they usually respond with "oh." They're either too embarrassed to ask about it or too bored at the prospect. Questions begin and end with, really, what was it like? I often give two descriptions: hot and shitty. There's no point in telling the truth, that for better and for worse, my time there changed me. There's no point in describing the feeling I get walking down the street in my run down neighborhood, a sinking uneasiness when I imagine the passing cars could explode. The same exact feeling when you hear a bullet whiz by you for the first time, coming close enough to ring your ears. No, I just tell them how stepping in human shit can really damper an afternoon stroll in Baghdad.
L to R: A rare picture of Chi's face, Dude, Jesse and Payday on our maiden voyage
Two years ago this week. I'm getting old.
My antics here and at Vet Voice got me a spot at the milblogging panel at Net Roots Nation this week. I don't know what I'll be discussing, but let's see if I can get over that whole 'not talking' thing. If you're attending, let me know and I'll tell you how to get around Austin (hint: don't get on I-35).