Sooner or later, we realize that advice offered usually is for a reason.
Before we redeployed to the states, we were given several classes. Some of these were of the “don’t drink enough in two days to make up for the lost year” variety, others were on how to readjust to family life.
Since I wasn’t much of a drinker and had no family, I just quietly sat through the sessions, counting the final days before I was free to experience unfiltered Capitalism.
But a lot of what they pointed out was true. I’m finding myself in a state of weird flux now that I’m back.
I’m testy. Screaming children in stores are extra unsettling. People cutting me off in traffic spark off waves of aggression. I jump whenever voices boom over loud speakers or if something drops. Even the whirling noise of the coffee shop where I’m tapping into the Internet starts to grate on my nerves. I need some quiet.
I’m also getting the whole battery of sleeplessness, stomach trouble and all that.
Luckily, we had those classes to tell us things like this were normal, otherwise I’d be freaking out. I’m told it’s all a part of getting back into “normal” life.
There have been a few instances already where I’ve lent an ear to a cashier or clerk who needed to vent. “Can these be actual problems?” I asked myself. They seemed so trivial. Was the fact that a hand held computer wasn’t working THAT important, or that Lenard entered the tire job as a “pending” rather than a “normal”? You had to get the manager to unlock something at the register…why are you stressing over that?
Anger and frustration damages my calm.
I still think about Big and Little Mohammad back on Taji–two of our interpreters that I saw a lot. Big M was a kick-boxer, built, and dreamed about joining the American Army and starting a life in the U.S. Little M always joked with me about “not turning him in” when we headed out the wire. The rewards for turning in interpreters who worked for the Army to local militias was substantial.
Their lives were fraught with danger. Their families were in danger. Every day they had to watch themselves.
And Iraq itself is a hell of a place. You just have to catch passing headlines to see that.
The fact that a store is out of red Nokia cell phone covers seems a little trite–not to get all snobby about it. I just can’t freak out about that sort of stuff.
I’ve seen a few teenage fights with parents also. Pent-up angst unloaded in the mall, kids trying too hard to show how grown up they are. It’s very surreal.
Fingerprints on the windows and the people paid to keep them clean. It’s so different. There are endless stores and mountains of things to own and enjoy here. I keep picturing some of my Iraqi friends over here. How would they react to the glitz, the giggling girls, the kept streets, the abundance?
It’s all a part of adjusting, I suppose.