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When you first get back to America after a long time spent elsewhere, everything feels a bit surreal.
You walk through the mall, recognizing everything. You don't stand there, gaping at the shelves like you've never seen them; you aren't overwhelmed by the choices or surplus. You remember, somewhere in the back of your mind, that this is normal. This is what life was always like before you left. The strange, indescribable feeling hiding just behind your eyes, that none of this is real, is like a veil upon your thoughts, shrouding them, but even through it you still see. Seven months was not enough time to forget what walking through a department store is like, or how it should feel.
While you were gone you made a list of all the things you wanted to do, to see and to buy when you got back. You may have kept a word document on your desktop with all these things, or just emailed them to your personal account so you would have them ready when you got home. The list was like a talisman back when you were in country and the days seemed endless. If you had time, you could open it up and imagine each one come to life, or dream of something new to add. The mere imagination of them helped banish the tedium of deployed life.
But now you walk through the department store, and you can't remember half the list. You found one item, a favorite drink or snack, and you carry it with you through the store as you try to remember the rest, as you try to remember what was so important that you had to come home. You turn down the next aisle, scanning the shelves, wondering if this is where you will find it, though you cannot recall what it is. You turn the corner and look, and turn the corner and look, and again and again.
At some point, as with all the previous deployments, you'll realize that it wasn't the list or the stores or your favorite drink that brought you home. It was your friends, and they never really left you. They were just harder to talk to while you were gone.
I'll be getting home tomorrow, and as such this will be my last 'deployed' blog post. Thank you to everyone who wrote or watched or even just read something I made over the past seven months. You guys are great, and there's rarely a day that goes by that I don't think about how lucky I am to be part of this fandom.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming.
29 comments · 343 views
I'm typing this on my Samsung Galaxy, so forgive my brevity and typos. It's the first time I've turned this phone on in seven months, and I'm having to learn hour to use it all over again.
We landed earlier this morning in Qatar after a six hour flight in a C-130, which is about the least comfortable aircraft ever designed. Also, I get air sick easily, so today has been a particularly uncomfortable experience. I've been awake for 36 hours now.
But, of course, it's worth it. When it's time to come home from a deployment you just accept that there will be discomfort, but the alternative is never leaving Afghanistan. For some reason I've never understood, the flight home is always worse than the flight there. But the reward at the end will be better.
In a few hours, I'll be getting on a 15-hour flight back to the states. I'll hate it, and it's possible I'll be sick many times before we land, but I still can't wait.
Talk to you guys again in a day or so. If you see me in a bar, first round's on me.
Edit: I guess I can link a story to this post. Go read Forever Summer!
30 comments · 477 views
7w, 6hOutside Insight Wrap-Up15 comments · 497 views