It’s funny how fast and slow I year goes by. Just a year ago I was sitting in Qatar waiting to go forward to Afghanistan. Now I’m sitting here waiting to go home. It is still the hottest place I’ve ever been and it is still the same as I remember it being last year. Although it does seem to be a lot windier, and wind in a desert means you get a good exfoliation everywhere you go.
For dinner one of my evenings in Qatar, I met up with a Sailor who I deployed here with a year ago. Throughout the year we were stationed at different locations in Afghanistan, so this was the first time we saw each other since Qatar, which seems like a quick year ago. He was one of the Sailors who walked around the airport with me in Germany to get our steps in before we re-boarded the flight that eventually took us to Qatar the first time.
Well I was walking through a sand storm to the gym I started to really think about the year I just spent with the Army. My entire time there I continually stated how much I disliked the Army. Now, I am still very happy I picked the correct service and joined the Navy, but I really believe my distaste for the Army comes from one Army Officer and one Army Officer only. The first Army Officer I worked for certainly made the time go slow. We had a really tough time seeing things the same way. I struggled a lot to make our working relationship work. He was one of those officers who walks around demanding respect for the rank he wears rather than earning his respect through being a leader and setting the example for his troops. This style of leadership is VERY contrary to mine and it made for a difficult first half of the deployment. After a few critical conversations with him that lead to no change I knew I needed to do something else. At the six month mark I had a long and fact filled conversation with his boss and we decided it was best I move somewhere else. This move turned into a blessing and my remaining six months flew by much faster than the first six.
So to set the record straight, the Army really isn’t that bad. My Sunday runs were full of great Army guys. I ate breakfast with the Army and enjoyed it. For movie nights and waffle nights I went with my Army brethren. I don’t know if it’s because I’m on my way home, but my heart has most certainly softened to the Army and I will remember the majority of my time with them with fondness and I may even get a little nostalgic.
I want to give a thank you to my Life Fitness friends. Back in October a group of them sent me a tent for my bed and it was seriously the best. It gave me my own little sanctuary and I had a little space to call my own. It almost made it seem like I was on a ship again. On the ship we each have our own rack (bed) that has curtains you close and it gives you your own little space. I enjoyed the tent so much that is was the last thing I packed to send home. On my very last morning in Kabul I packed it up (after watching a YouTube video on how to do it) and sent it home. I loved it so much I didn’t want to spend even one night there without it! It certainly helped the time go by more quickly. Now I’m sure my kids will love it just as much as I did!
I’m not sure I shared, but I had a really hard time digesting the food the entire time I was in Afghanistan. At the beginning I had terrible headaches and I just felt awful. I started using Nuun water tablets multiple times a day and that helped a lot. My salt and electrolyte levels were so off and I wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed on a daily basis just to feel normal. I never got used to the food there, but at least my stomach was hurting all the time. I stayed away from many of the fresh vegetables, which helped, but I LOVE vegetables and I missed them so much.
Now I am working my way home. In Qatar I saw cauliflower for the first time in a long time. I don’t remember seeing it in Afghanistan at all. I ate plenty of it. I ate so many vegetables in Qatar, I don’t think my stomach was ready. Although I was so excited to eat them again and they tasted so good.
As I work my way home I have to start getting used to the way things were. I’m sure the adjustment will be fast. While in Qatar I swam in a pool that was a full 25 yards, verse the 17 meter pool I swam in, in Kabul. The first few laps felt very strange and went by slow, but by my second swim there I was used to the length again and it felt like nothing changed. As with everything the food, the people, my family, and work…I will get used to it again and it will all feel normal once more.
I’m onto the next step of this journey home…I’m waiting for a very early morning flight to Germany!