09 May 2014

See You in Afghanistan

On the eve of a major movement, I sit in my bunk at a NATO base in Romania. It is very interesting how the world changes. Less than a generation ago, this installation likely housed troops of the Warsaw Pact. Now it’s the staging center for the largest and longest ever NATO operation.

The room looks like it belongs in the Ikea military catalog—small and minimalist. White and shiny.

I can’t say that I’ll miss this place. I stare at the few belongings the Army was kind enough to let me hold onto for the 36 hours we were here. It all fits into a single backpack. The extra Rubbermaid container is along for the ride simply because I refused to have spent $4 on it without keeping it a while longer.

Houston just walked in. He is abundantly optimistic. I wish I possessed that quality, in slightly less measure than he. Not that I am pessimistic, by any means. It’s just that I am easily annoyed. If you like this blog, you ought to be glad, I suppose, since a good portion of the posts are outlets for Army-induced frustration.

Esther and I have been texting. We’ll find out next billing cycle how badly T-Mobile is going to shake us down. Right now I don’t care.

Etheridge, who per habit went to sleep several hours ago (it is now 11:00 pm), has just woken up. We argue for a bit about the past participle of “wake.” Solomon argues that I should just write “awaken.” I don’t want to. Etheridge asserts that the sentence should read, “He has been awaken by the people in his room.” He promised to smother us in our sleep.

How does it feel to be on my way to Afghanistan? Hard to describe. I am trying to remember what is was like at this point on the Kosovo tour. I really can’t remember.

I am excited, for one thing. I have been hyping this thing up in my mind for over a year. I just sent an email to my dissertation committee members explaining to them my proposed timeline. Breaking away from school, work, family, and life is a huge emotional challenge. Part of that challenge is talking myself into looking forward to something that’s going to be so hard.

One emotion that I am not feeling is sadness. I got choked up a few days ago, when we were leaving Fort Dix. Esther and I talked on the phone and the thought of finally leaving the United States put us both in a state. We’re both past that point now, and just planning on how to make things easier on the boys.

We show up at 6:45 am in front of the Ikea barracks to catch a bus to the flight line. They say we’ll get on a C-17, which is kind of cool for about eight minutes. It’ll be a five-hour flight.

Now the guys are talking about going to midnight chow. I don’t want to get out of my bunk, but I probably will.

See you in Afghanistan. 


  1. Good luck, Rich! Our thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family. We're looking forward to hearing about your adventures in Afghanistan. Be safe, we know you'll make us all proud. - Mo

  2. Sending our best to you and your family.