Once again, I refused. The war was still raging, I needed to be there to fight it.
My pain grew. It felt as if my head would rip open at any moment. It fueled my determination to press through. “I’m not a sissy,” I told myself. Fellow soldiers rotated in and out. Some went on to other duty stations, many had major health concerns, and those were medically discharged.
“That’s not going to happen to me. I’m here for the long haul.”
At the end of my second tour of hell, I was burnt completely out. My hallucinations came to visit whether I was asleep or awake. I saw the boy at night when he came to my bed, and I saw him at work.
I was mad.
Somehow, I managed to keep it together just enough to move to my next duty station. The people I worked with in Germany pretended to be sad that I was moving on, and I pretended to care that it mattered.
I didn’t care and neither did they. The phoniness of the moment made me angry. “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” I thought as I grabbed my carry-on bag. My family and I stayed in a small room that was filled with bunkbeds. We left in the middle of the night and boarded the plane that would return us to the United States.
Several hours later, my family dozed in the cramped seats of economy class. I sat on the aisle.
“Show up and do your job. Keep your mouth shut. Get to know people before you push their buttons,” I chided myself. My personality was, at times, abrasive. I needed to put my best foot forward at my new duty station. The quietness of the cabin, combined with the absence of light, serenaded me into a restless sleep.
I dreamed of war and towers of fire shooting skyward from oil wells.
The pilot’s voice brought me from my dream. I looked out the window as we descended into a snow-covered landscape. We walked down the terminal and was greeted by two soldiers.
“Hi. Welcome to Colorado,” one said as we approached. I nodded. “Is this your first time here?”
“It is,” I responded. “How do I get to post?”
He gave me detailed directions, and I still managed to get lost. We drove around for several minutes until I came across a sign that led to the main road. From there, it was easy going. I pulled off the exit, the gate lay to the left.
An MP stepped out from the shack and waved me forward. I pulled up, rolled down my window, and handed her my ID. She scanned my ID and let us pass, I drove until I found the guest house.
My ‘new’ beginning started now.