Summin' Up September '05
If you’ve been reading the previous blog posts, you should have a good idea of what the day-to-day life was like for me during my first month in Iraq. Because I was so new to the Intelligence field as well as to the Squadron, I was initially given very little responsibility. I worked the night shift, which professionally meant that things were slow since we didn’t fly as many missions at night (or that tended to be a convenient time to perform maintenance on the birds); personally it meant that my schedule aligned with the daytime hours of my friends and family back home; and health wise, it meant I often felt out of it or off, since I tried to sleep during the daytime hours. I had the ability to email, call, and write family and friends like Margie, Tori, Theresa, Kate, DJ, Chris, and Matt basically as often as I wished. I moved rooms a couple of times, but eventually was allowed to settle into an apartment about the size of (and situated like) a first year college dorm. I used the other “bed” as a makeshift “dresser” until Patrick fashioned me one later that year. When the generators died, we slept on cots in the tents adjacent to the Alamo. I read a lot, wrote a lot, worked out a lot, and, ironically, watched my Friends DVDs to feel connected to “real” people.
Exactly one month after my arrival, Mike and I broke up. Correction: he dumped me. Modification: I probably induced it a little bit. In my twenty four year old mind, I’d thought he was “the one;” although, my definition of that changed diurnally depending upon what book I was reading, whether or not Ross and Rachel were “on a break,” in what mood my various best friends were in regards to their own love lives, or which ex-boyfriend with whom I was communicating. Mike was special, though, as much as I tried to cheapen the break up for my own salve. He’d come in and out of my life for five years, but breaking up on separate continents had a different finality to it. I even contacted an ex-girlfriend of his to bitch at her about a previous quasi-transgression he told me about a few months before, and inadvertently unearthed more details to his back-story that made it a more painful split in one regard, but better in the other because it made it quite clear he was a jerk. Also inadvertent – the friendship she and I formed. (She wrote me and sent me care packages with girly magazines for the remainder of my deployment.) Being sure that I could label him “jerk” was a good thing, though, because clarity is what we seek in break-ups like that, isn’t it? If we can split the person in two, it makes it easier to discard the pieces of them that hurt us…along with the pieces of ourselves we don’t like.
Admittedly, I was still incredibly immature (or “compulsive,” I think he called me once) and didn’t handle things calmly when my feelings were hurt. I wanted reasons for everything when there were no reasons to be had... or that he was human and just returned from war himself and was lonely now while I was gone, or because sometimes falling out of love is just as mysterious as falling into it – whichever side of the car wreck you’re on, you walk away from it confused.
All in all, it worked out for the best, but as you can imagine, it was a vacillating process to get to the point of believing that. I moved on, though. It wasn’t much of a choice given the surroundings. Only “moving on” looked different in Iraq then it did back home. I couldn’t go out with friends, talk to my family any time I wanted, hit the bars, maybe date a new guy, or veg out on the weekends. Instead, it meant I focused more on work, increased communication with everyone else in my life, ran more, and ate better. Also, I wrote daily mantras in my journal like “MOVE ON,” but I think that would’ve happened at home or in Iraq.
I think I coped pretty well. As a Marine, you spend such an inordinate amount of time training before you’re allowed to do the real thing. Therefore, however tedious my job seemed to be, it felt salacious to finally be there, and that distracted me from sulking for too long. On October 3rd, I effused serenity – “It was another gorgeous morning! SSgt Cornejo and I had a great run and then a little workout. I feel good. My life is in God’s hands and I cast my worries on Him. Each day can be a surprise from Him. He will bring true love back into my life one of these days. ;-) Some days, I think of no man in particular, and miss no man in particular. I just am happy, content…know that God will put the man He wants me to be with in front of me. J” I’d hit all the musts that morning: I’d bonded with one of my Marines (paramount), worked out (important), absorbed the beautiful day (nature always made me feel close to God), and felt centered within myself (got balance).
And of course, notes from home like these really did cheer me up. The first letters I received from Tori and Margie were unknowingly posted to arrive perfectly post-breakup.
(From Tori) Sarah Foof! Hope this package finds you healthy and settled in TQ! I figured with your feet in boots all day you could use some pedicure goodies and the bright pink polish is to remind you of me! J So girly stuff and a gun holster? I was dying laughing when Matt told me that is what he was sending you. You need another? How many guns do you have, fool?!
(from Margie) SOUPIE! (Did I ever tell you my former roomie Allie has a dog named Soupie? The dog is in Singapore with the rest of Allie’s family, but it makes me laugh whenever she talks about him. And no, I’m not calling you a dog – just a bitch – I mean, I LOVE the Triumph CD!) Hope all is well over yonder! I don’t know what you do with these little letters I send, but I would hope you either post them on your desk, sleep with them under your pillow so you can dream about these moments, or you use them as toilet paper. Any of the above would let me know that you cherish such letters. Love and meow, Largie