some months longer than others
I remember something like day 10 at Taji, back in October…
We had spent a few weeks in Kuwait, attending classes, briefings and dabbling in rumors about the war “up north.”
Our command spread a few of them around as well, the sort that parents scare their children with to keep them behaved. For us they usually went along the lines of, “Pay attention! They’re using “X” and “Y” up there. If you don’t remember what this class is teaching you, you could cause your friend to die.”
Which is pretty severe, granted. But they use that line for everything from blousing your boots to Arabic cultural greetings, so after a while, you tune it out and it’s not so bad.
All that to say that those weeks, coupled with the transit days of getting to Taji from Kuwait–the endless series of moves, temporary housing, briefings, air lifts, and 0200 wake ups…took what seemed like months.
So on day 10, as I was at the camp exchange, waiting for the shuttle to take be south to headquarters, I watched the sun set–one of my first Iraqi dust sunsets, and wondered how in the hell I was going to make it 10 months, let alone another 10 days.
“Boy it’s sure good to see that patch,” one of the bus stop patrons piped my way. Unit patches came in waves as units…well, showed up. Seeing a “new” patch around meant someone was coming in, and that someone was leaving for home.
“Yeah, we just got here a few days ago,” I said, noticing his patch and not recognizing it. Patches like mine from a major command were easily recognizable. There were a myriad of other Reserve and National Guard unit patches that I had never seen. His could have been one of those.
“Seeing you means I’ll be seeing less of me around here,” he went on, looking to the sun, shifting into a recollecting sort of mood, like a grandfather telling a childhood story. “It’s not so bad, really, but I’ll be glad to get going.”
It was cool, much cooler than Kuwait, which managed to hold on to its 100-plus temperatures well into traditional autumn. Taji then was a more welcoming host.
Now we’re 10-months plus into our own ration of war. “Seems like yesterday” and all that crap. Soon it’ll be time for me to head down to the bus stop and wait for some new joker with a new patch to pass along the hows and wherefores of the camp.
God’s been good to make me numb enough not to remember the past year like I did the first few weeks. Whew! I would have gone bonkers.
People are starting to get restless. Tempers are flaring as troops realize they don’t have to be nice to each other for much longer. Go ahead and burn the bridges! A few more weeks and we’re out! Woohoo!
I’ll celebrate with them as long as I can, keeping in mind the upcoming year. Some cats are planning barbecues and all that romp for when we land back in the states. “You’re soooo coming,” our equal opportunity rep said to me yesterday. “We need to get you drunk so you can make us laugh.”
“Yeah, don’t plan on going anywhere. We’re going to get you f***ed up!” an admin sergeant added.
While the idea of vomiting and being hung over for my time back in the states is tempting, I think I’ll probably bow out of a couple of the get togethers for a little “me” time. After all, there’s a lot of getting ready for Iraq still to come when I hit the states.
Maybe someone will see me at the Taji exchange around October of this year with my new patch, and go on about how the camp works and where things are.
That’ll be a trip.