Takes some time
“How does it feel to be home?”
You know? I have no idea. I was wondering if there would be a gush of emotion. I saw it in lots of other guys all just itching to be back home with their wives and children. It wasn’t a huge deal for me though.
I was glad to be visiting home, that’s for sure, but there wasn’t this soul-infusing, life-changing, heaven-opening outpouring of excitement on my part. Is that weird?
In the weeks leading up to my leaving Iraq, the question was a bit different – “How does it feel to be going home?” They’d all ask.
I’d play it down, no big deal. It’s the way I deal with things I look forward to; I ignore them until they arrive. Christmas? That’s nearby? Hrmmm, hardly noticed. Poof it’s December 24th and I’m free to enjoy the moment, all sans of the nail-biting anticipation of the preceding nights.
It was the same way for this shindig. While everyone around me was counting down the days for their own departures – some days away, some months to go, there I sat, blind to the approach of my own plane ride to two-weeks freedom.
And it worked. Poof, I was flying home, two sleeping pills to the wind, dozing away the 20 hours from Kuwait to Dallas, one step closer to Oregon, where the family was.
I was numb. I got on the next plane, Portland bound. I sat next to a private – the only other soldier heading to the northwest locale, and heard about how he was going to get acquainted with his Mrs. for the entire four hours.
Finally, we touched down, and walked down the gangway. I let my aroused companion to go ahead, not to get caught up in his excitement, while I shuffled through my own stuff and took in the moment.
I had arrived, safe and sound to where my family was waiting, just a good walk down the terminal, and I didn’t feel anything. Again, glad to be there, but not break-down-and-cry sort of excited.
Come to think of it, I had put most emotions on hold for the past seven months. Sure, there were things to get a person excitable in Iraq, and I am an excitable person, but other than tromping off half-cocked about some minuscule Army BS tidbit now and then, I don’t know if I’d had many life-changing moments in Iraq. At least, none that made for more than a good story here and there.
Drowned in all the mundane, life-siphoning politics of modern war, I may have forgotten how to feel.
So when people ask me how it feels to be home, I sort of give this smile and standard “great” response. But really, I have no idea.
Our chaplain briefed us on how things will be weird when we get back, and how it will take some time to reintegrate into normal life outside of assault weapons and the imminent threat death and dismemberment.
I guess this is my quirk.