Pier to eternity. New River in fog, April 2010.
It looks like I've repeated the post-deployment no-blogging pattern so far. Somehow it's already been almost a month since my last, and I feel terrible for that. There is a real struggle though, to deal with what's here and now rather than what's past. I'll share first a note on weather and timing, jotted down on 1/27 while still in Jacksonville, only a day after that last post. Following that are some more current thoughts from Boulder, CO.
Not the evening described below, but a milder sunset from 2010.
Just when I disparaged "down east" (as the locals call it) for its constant rain, the weather gods felt the need to remind me of how pleasant it can be, and then some. Following an absolutely miserable day of bureaucratic and systemic frustrations that every service member, Reserve warrior and veteran get to enjoy from time to time (honestly, you'd think I was the first freakin' one to ask HOW I can ensure I'll receive this medical coverage I've been promised for the next string of months), I went for a long run to numb that anger with some physical pain. What I got to take in as a reward was one of the most absolutely brilliant sunsets ever thrown across a sky. It killed me to not have a camera handy. What started as a long horizontal triangle of bold pink, surrounded by linings of gold and layers of purple, turned for a time into half a sky of torrid reds and violet-pink cloud. It was truly awesome, in the original meaning of the word.
Well after the sky had put on a brilliant show, I got back to the river with my crappy ol' camera phone for the last gasp of color.
Even this morning I knew the skies would be busy refuting my complaints...the morning's early light perfectly illuminated the sweep of fog and mist that so often clings to the scrub and the streams, before spreading across the open ground at daybreak. On days like this one, it's easy to recall what a swamp this entire coastal plain is. On a related note, from this region of eastern Carolina into northern Virginia, I keep voicing my amazement at the sheer number of trees our country has in its landscapes. Just one of those things I may have never noticed if I hadn't spent so much time in a place so starved for that feature. As you may have read in my blog entries from 2006, Afghanistan has trees prominently in just a few places, and even in those, the problem of illegal harvesting (which doesn't leave anything re-planted, of course) threatens their future while drought ensures that most of the country will continue to be barren.
North Carolina trees, January 2011
Downtown Boulder in snow, February 2011
Aside from amateur meteorology description then, what's the current situation for your nomadic narrator? A full-time attempt at "transition" and "adjustment"...though those words don't mean much at all when it was a very transient, unsettled situation you left in the first place. Honestly, I thought I'd be a hell of a lot happier in at least my first few weeks. There have been some very good times, some standout moments that have welcomed me back across the first month stateside, from Virginia to NC to Nevada to Colorado...but no vacation yet from the psychological burden of doing something important with myself, with this experience...and now?
You can take the "Dan" out of Afghanistan...
But still the shadows will give chase.
Now the hard work begins. For whatever reason, it is far more daunting to me to establish some sort of 'normal' life than it is to log 18-hour days for 8 months straight in Afghanistan, working my tail off to try and build a government ministry and new army's capacity. That is my next thing, I think, to create stability where I've known none...and to ignore the teasing temptation to simply be irresponsible for awhile, which works counter to that. In the frequent, more depressed moments, I see myself as a homeless, jobless, car-less, even ski-less (in Colorado!) single veteran who still somehow is saddled with too much accumulated stuff. It's as if the last ten months were an odd dream, and I'm back trying to figure out life in the place to which I up and moved just a few months before that.
Hike up Mount Sanitas, and Boulder drops far below.
My hiking partner and buddy's best friend, Bodie
I didn't plan on a segue from my Afghan chronicles to the personal lamentation of a restless, anxiety-hounded Nowhere Man who is searching for the motivation to do even some of the most basic things. But it seems that I'm doing it anyway. Bear with me...I still plan to post "lost chapters" of this deployment (hopefully in time to keep the attention of some loyal readers, anyway)...and your honest feedback is always welcome.
No place feels further from Kabul than Vegas.