Postcards from Tradocia

close focus

Throughout this deployment I’ve used a mental perspective one might call “close focus,” or “one day at a time”: in order to keep my head in the game, I’ve concentrated on the most proximate chunk of time possible, usually the current day. When I get up in the morning, all I think about is, “what do I have to do today?” (Of course, the answer these days is usually absolutely nothing.) There are two main advantages to this perspective: one, it seems to make time go faster (with your head down and no mileposts to stare toward, it’s harder to notice how slowly time passes); and two, by focusing more intensely on my immediate surroundings, it’s easier to forget the sensation of missing home.

This technique was particularly effective for me during basic training and AIT; I just took things one day at a time and it seemed to flow along pretty well. That was only four months, though – I’m in my sixteenth month of active duty and that’s a long time to be living one day at a time without looking up.

Early in the deployment, when I was single and busy with training, things were easy. I didn’t have a home, I didn’t have a girlfriend, I hated my civilian job, I was meeting new people, and I was about to embark on what would certainly be an adventure (albeit a potentially dangerous one). Nearly a year and a half later, though, I have a home, a wife, I hate my Army job, and all the “adventure” parts of the deployment have come and gone, leaving simple hot drudgery.

Mrs. Melobi hardly seems real to me now; I’ve known her for many years but only in the last year and a half have we been a proverbial “item.” Coincidentally, I’ve spent the last year and a half on active duty, so our relationship has developed across the miles without the usual superstructure of physical interaction.

(I can feel the ether vibrating with the collective eye-rolling of my readership, wondering at my folly in engaging in a long-distance relationship – from a combat zone, no less – but I assure you, the situation is quite under control. It’s not as if I met her through an online dating service (or in Everquest/WOW/FFXI/etc – barf) and threw open the doors to my vast fortune.)

She’s been extraordinarily considerate and understanding – almost unbelievably so, considering that she said to me that she didn’t want to become an Army wife and I made her one anyway. (Muahahaha!) But when I dream at night, I don’t dream of her – I dream of nothing but B Company, in every conceivable situation. At parties, in combat, just sitting around – it’s a red-letter night if at least one member of this damn unit isn’t visiting me in my sleep. As Agent Smith said in The Matrix:

I’m going to be honest with you. I hate this place…this…zoo, this…prison, this…reality…whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer.

It’s great that I can chat with her every day from the comfort of my room, but we both often wonder if there’s really a person on the other end, or if it isn’t just some Turing machine, issuing programmed responses. How would either of us know?

Having my head down for so long, staring at my feet, watching one foot land in front of the other, one day at a time – one day I’m going to look up and Melobi will be there, and the World, and Iraq will be behind me. Or…so I assume, but there’s no way of knowing until I get there.

7 Comments

  1. Spike

    Or…so I assume, but there’s no way of knowing until I get there.

    Yers. I often wonder about the distance you guys are from your normal lives and how it affects you. Nothing can make that distance physically smaller but at least you’ve got instant communication on the net and the phone and don’t have to wait weeks for letters like in WWII.

    Not that that helps.

  2. oldandretired

    I don’t know if it will help but after going through the normal fall in love get married get divorced stuff. The second chance for me started the same way. She went off to school at Ft Gordon shortly after we met and we spent the next few months talking on the phone once or twice or more every day. We learned to communate, I didn’t need the looks to know what she was feeling I could tell from her voice. Thirteen wonderful years, eleven anniversaries, an awesome ten year old daughter, sixteen months, 6,432 miles later we are still closer because of that then I ever was with anyone. Some proverbs just need to be proven wrong. Because I know she reads this Mary, I still love you more then life and am looking forward to seeing the words THE END

  3. Rightwingsparkle

    awwww…man. That was so sweet I had to steal it.

  4. kelly

    Tearing up so early in the morning! Good seems to come from every wierd situation even when you cant see it at the time. I loved reading your entry Alex, I feel like I am a head buried in the sand kinda person. The big picture is at times too overwhelming to view. I’m just working on July to be over- on the August! Closer to you and gettin on with it!
    love- your sis sendin u love and big hugs.

  5. Bryce and Lola

    we, too are eagerly awaiting your return,,we think mrs. melobi is just super,,a great addition to our clan, luv, g and g

  6. MrPhil

    You sound a bit down. Hang in there, bud. If you’re interested, my suggestion for dealing with it: take more pictures. You’ll probably (hopefully) never be able to take pictures of that area again.
    Plus, I like your pictures. :-)

  7. Ghost Dog

    I had the unpleasant, but thankfully brief, experience of seeing your situation from the other end (sort of) when my wife was deployed to Bosnia while I stayed behind in Germany. Hang in there.

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