I know that you probably get bored silly hearing about my trivial life back here in the States, supporting my soldier - but because that's what I "know", I feel that it's more honest to be real and tell you my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions . . . not because I am horribly self-centered, but because I would feel terrible if I translated Al's emotions for you - and I somehow got them wrong. One of the worst feelings in the world is being misunderstood, and because I love Al so much, I never want to be guilty of committing that sin and then perpetuating it by posting it for the world at large on this blog.
So, I don't talk about Al's experience a lot. I show you pictures, I tell short stories, I smatter in vague generalities, but I shy away from qualifying "his" experience to you. Instead, I generally try to tell you my experience, which includes him - and to me, that seems more honest than me trying to explain a reality that I don't know anything about. Trust me, I have heard all about the conditions in Iraq, I can tell you what Al ate for breakfast today, what his favorite snacks are, who he trusts, who he doesn't, what he loves about what he's doing, what he hates -- but I can't tell you really, truly what the smell in a 130+ degree heat portajohn is like (and I'm pretty darn thankful for that actually).
On some huge level though, that also makes me sad. I want so much to be sharing things with him, and I can't ---- by the time all of this is said and done, he will have lived a year of his life away from me. With different smells, textures, experiences, people, culture, currency, thoughts, feelings, skies, seas, food, EVERYTHING - that I don't have here.
As you know, I went to the beach this past weekend, which was wonderful. I celebrated my birthday which was about as pain-free as one could expect a 30th birthday to be --- but all I wanted was Al. Well, yesterday, Al got to take his own trip. He was lucky enough to get to go on a mission - and make a side trip to the "Ruins of Babylon" - he got to see the Gates of Babylon and he got to see Saddam's Palace overlooking the Euphrates River. And he told me that it was "the best day of his life so far in Iraq".
You have no idea the joy that I felt to hear those words. How excited it made me that he actually got to have fun -- and to do something historic -- and, almost, dare I say, "touristy"? I wish so much that you could have heard the excitement in his voice - like a little kid - saying, "And I got to go here!" - and "Then I got to go there!" - and "Then we did this!" Sometimes, in this experience, I catch myself being 'happy' - and it almost feels like I need to stop it. Like I am inviting trouble by allowing myself a momentary sigh of relief. Well, yesterday, I had huge moment of bliss - listening to my bunny, hearing the pure joy in his voice - I rode a wave of security well into the evening.
Then I opened up my email this morning and my inbox was chockfull of new pictures and I was happy all over again. Everything in life and everything in a deployment is what you make of it. Yes, it SUCKS to have Al away from me - Yes, it SUCKS that we are leading virtually separate lives right now. But all of it doesn't suck - yesterday was a good day and today is a good day. And I am very blessed that I get to have Al in my life at all. I am choosing to share these pictures with you in the hopes that seeing Al so happy - and seeing such a beautiful and historic place - will bless you the same way that it has blessed me.
Al at the Gates of Babylon
Looking 'up' at Saddam's Palace
Al didn't do this graffiti ;o)
Al DID do this graffitti <3