Friday, November 24, 2006

Glorious Shit of The Week

On the night of August 4, 2004 I hugged my family, said goodbye and left them behind at a hotel in Dallas. Sleep came surprisingly early that night, and I awoke at 4 AM to a breakfast of eggs and bacon that a homeless man would think twice about eating. I was surrounded by about a hundred other nervous people, all strangers to each other but with one thing in common: they were all joining the military that day. Recruits for the Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, active and reserve, we all piled onto buses bound for MEPS, the last step in processing before you board a plane to the location of your initial training. Hours later I was on my way to Atlanta, where I boarded another bus headed to Ft. Benning.

When you sign a contract for the Army, you do it by year. I joined for three years, but you can go for four, five or six. But that time doesn’t start when you begin training. It begins when you’ve completed it. My training was 16 weeks long beginning on August 5, so day one of my contract started when I graduated on November 24, two years ago today.

I don’t know when I started to count the days I had left, but it began in the low 1000s. In the 500s I put a running count on my MSN Messenger title, and if you talked to me on there (Candice), then you celebrated each passing day. You can even find a number here and there on this fine rag. Today, that number has reached 365.

I was never big on the thanks part of Thanksgiving. Before August 5, 2004 it seemed turkey, happy families and warm houses were simply how life went. I didn’t know how to be thankful for the things I had. Now for the first time, I’m thankful for something: the future. In one year (or 8760 hours and counting!), I’ll be in control of my own life for the first time in my 21 year history. I won’t be government property. I won’t be in a country where people rub their hands together in anticipation of killing another American. I won’t be in a place where speaking your mind is taboo, where suggesting alternative ideas to superiors is met with vehement reprise. One year from today, I won’t be in Iraq, I won’t be at Ft. Lewis, I’ll be exactly where I want to be, and all the good and bad things that go with it. And that is what I’m thankful for.