Two months back, and Kuwait already seems a million miles away and a lifetime ago. Like an elemental particle held against a repulsive force and suddenly released, I rocketed out of the deployment at incredible speed, hardly pausing after getting off the bus before jumping into post-war life. Mrs. Melobi put the house up for sale before I returned, and everything went according to plan after that: the place sold while I was demobilizing at Camp Shelby, I came home and we looked for houses, and within a month of my return we were living someplace new. This meant, of course, that it only took a month for virtually all of my mercenary spoils of war to evaporate in a puff of black ink and legal-sized paper, but those ill-gotten gains as my time as a fascist baby-killer were just numbers in the computer anyway. Better to trade digits in a spreadsheet for tangible goods, like an awesome giant house with a fucked-up roof.
Mrs. Melobi was amazed that, unlike the last time I returned from the war, I didn’t constantly babble about the people, places, and things there. Nor was I plagued with dreams of my comrades (not any sort of horror, mind you – just endless dreams of mundanity, a continual b-roll of the same damn people I’d spent 18 months with); it was almost like the whole thing never happened. Maybe that’s because so little actually did happen that in my memory, the repetitive bits are deleted and highlights (miserably few, those) compressed, so that the deployment is zipped into a little three-week excursion.
But it did happen, and it wasn’t three weeks. Just when I forget about it, I remember that there’s a year-long hole in my life; I catch myself saying things like, “last summer, I…,” before realizing that it was two summers ago, the intervening one having disappeared into the sandy horizons of Kuwait.
I struggled to contextualize the experience in the last months there, trying to find some larger meaning for an office job half a world away. Now that I’m home, I don’t feel that need so much – it just happened, and I can try to glean lessons about my career and think about individual events without fitting them into a larger whole. This also means that the deployment was evolutionary, not revolutionary; a continuation of a theme, rather than last time, which was a complete discontinuity. It was still a fitting end to a chapter – or a capstone event, if you will – since I’ll walk the path of a warrant officer soon, making this my last tour as an NCO.
And now it’s back to life in the human world, living and loving here as that sandy year fades into the distance, already a lifetime ago, with the glorious full-color world laid out in front of me, just waiting to be seen.