Exodus Vs Institutionalization

I’ve been away for a long time. A really long time. Almost a year, non-stop.

A YEAR in the wastelands. A year in a place that only exists in headlines for the rest of the world. A mythical terrible place where all kinds of horrific things happen. But you know, this place isn’t so horrific to me. Nah, this is normal. All of it. Me looking the same as everyone else. All of us, wearing the exact same thing. The only caste system is the rank system. There’s no rich or poor among us, not visibly. We all have jack shit.

None of us are driving nice cars. None of us are well dressed or eating at expensive restaurants. None of us are getting into the exclusive clubs. NONE OF US ARE ON YOUR FUCKING A-LIST. None of us blow coke with the Brat Pack. Apparently we compete for headlines though.

Nah, we’re all a step above transient, and we’ve pretty much forgotten that.

We aren’t stuck in traffic like you. We aren’t wearing suits and ties. We aren’t carrying briefcases.

Mr., we deal in lead.

We barely remember what red lights look like. What the fuck is a shopping mall? QVC? WHAT? What the hell are you TALKING about?

Y'see, most of our guys have already been on leave. Most. I can't imagine what it's like for them to go home, then turn around and come back to Iraq. Pick up and do it all over again. Tearful goodbye at the airport, again. Going home for leave, seems like a masochistic cocktease to me. Dangle it right there in front of you, give you a little taste, then snatch it back, fill your nose with the shit-smell of the Raq once again. Probably over faster than a dream. And twice as faded out and dissipating with each minute.

I've been here for almost a YEAR. How does one go back to normal for such a short period of time? I won't do it. A friend and I are going far, faaaaaaaaaaar away and not looking back until we're on the bird again. [Those of you who know where I'm going, do me the favor of not mentioning it in comments or anything, not til I'm back here.]

For three weeks, it's nothing but boozing and sight-seeing, gawking and staring and soaking it in, a controlled experiment to see just how we handle civilization, with a healthy degree of insanity and recklessness. Minor consequences be damned. I'll get my R&R, you can be damned sure of it. Sensory overload in every sense of the word. Suck it dry.

I've got to pile the foreign on. Can't let myself be teased with a little normality. Normal isn't normal to me anymore. Not for now. When it's all said and done, I'll do my readjustments, and permanently. I'm not trying to switch it on and off and on again.

Hey man, I've been keeping up as best as I can with what's going on back there. Sounds like everyone's doing good. Me? Yeah I'm doing really well too. Counting days, taking it easy, you know the drill.

Oh, no, nah, I don't think I'm going to come home yet. Got too much other stuff to do. Y'know, wanted to see this other place and all. Thought I'd just get it out of the way now.

Ok, yeah, you caught me. Here's the truth then. I'm not ready to come home dude, sorry. I'm not ready to see all the old things I left behind, not for three bullshit weeks. I don't want to be on those same streets, except be looking for dudes with guns on rooftops or in windows. I don't want to cruise the main drag thinking, "Fucking Christ! This bastard is WAY too close to us! 100 meters, you dumb cocksucker! What's he trying to get lit up? That car could be loaded with explosives! What? I'm back in the World? Ha, oh man, ha ha ha, that's right. Good thing you're driving huh? FUCK DUDE, LOOK OUT MAN! DID YOU NOT SEE THAT SHIT IN THE ROAD? Oh yeah, things don't explode here. I forgot."

I guess I'm just not ready to see you guys and hear, "What's it like?" when I know at most, you want it all summed up in thirty seconds, and you'll just nod and change the subject, sorry you even asked. After all, you support the troops and not the war, even though you don't even know what that bullshit means. I mean fuck, you heard some face on TV spout that bullshit off, and you hopped right on that fucking bandwagon with the rest of them, cuz goddammit, it sounded REEEEAAAAALL good to you didn't it? You fake motherfucker.

What's my problem? Are you serious? It's not obvious to you? You got your prying, curious eyes on me, looking for that Vietnam Stare and all the Hollywood bullshit about us Fucked Up American Troops, the hidden casualties of war and all that other verbal pornography for headlines. Fuck you dude, I didn't get so much as an email from your sorry ass.

Shit man, you can keep it. You keep your Hot Topic and American Idol and Survivor. Keep your Doc Martens and Skoal Bandits. Keep your digital cable and high speed internet and your nice new car. Stay just as stupid as the rest of them.

And that's when you tell everyone that I've changed, that something's weird and I'm not the same. And I go back to Iraq.

That's the worst case scenario, anyway. I won't do it. I'm taking time off, like we're supposed to, to forget it all for a while, let loose, to be no one, to have been nowhere, to know nothing. Just an outsider with no history or background. Just for a few weeks. Then come back here and finish up.

And then come home. For good. Take the time needed to readjust, and close the book on this shit once and for all. The people back home deserve that much from me. And in time, I'll gladly reassimilate into the World.

The car, the job, the big fuckin' television. The 12 year old kid on Xbox Live claiming to have relations with my mother while he stomps me in the new Tom Clancy game. The despicable horrors of reality TV. Of traffic and pedestrian laws. Finding the last dying remnants of The American Dream. Scratching my dog's ass. Mouthing off to my dad, challenging his manhood. Re-learning how to fish. Taking the trash out. Working for minimum wage. Acting stupid with my brothers. Driving around in cars with no armor. Sunshine and happiness and a pair of sunglasses that aren't ballistic. Real breakfast, restaurants, bars, casinos, movie theaters, godawful shopping malls. Holidays.

Being one with you assholes again. Here's to you. My first drink in a foreign land of leisure is dedicated to all of you.


  1. LT Nixon said...
    I wouldn't worry too much about being on the A-list at any fancyass club with scantily dressed drunken chicks that wouldn't talk to anyone anyhow. I think all that stuff is fraudulent, a fake reality. It's fake because people only seek to instantly gratify themselves, so there's no sense of accomplishment, nothing beneficial to anyone else. There is a lot of truth and insight gained from suffering, I'm sure you must understand that now. Enjoy your R&R.
    Anonymous said...
    It blows you are going to be back here, but then again, it's not that long until you will be.

    Have fun, and, once again, don't forget my compensation.

    You know what I'm talking about.
    Anonymous said...
    I meant NOT going to be back here.

    Just for the record.
    Anonymous said...
    So, do they stil give the R&R briefings about how to wear a condom & the gross STD pictures? Funny how that stuff still didn't kill any libidos. Have fun.
    THE KING said...
    Your on our A LIST dude. Have a great time where ever your going on R&R.
    Earl said...
    I returned many times from one overseas assignment to another and was always amazed the the soap operas hadn't moved on from where I caught them the last time I was back. Always something better to remember in the foreign parts of the world, if one weren't bent on destroying it mightily - which we do so well. Have fun and do tell us all about it, well, you real friends anyway.
    Jenni said...
    "...you can keep it. You keep your Hot Topic and American Idol and Survivor. Keep your Doc Martens and Skoal Bandits. Keep your digital cable and high speed internet and your nice new car. Stay just as stupid as the rest of them...And that's when you tell everyone that I've changed, that something's weird and I'm not the same..."

    Anyone that claims your experience in Iraq changed you because you refuse to go along with the sheep mentality, embraced by the rest of American society, obviously never knew you at all.

    You've never gone along with anything just because everyone else is choosing to do so.

    As for being wary after you come home of driving, you should be. Cory's driving now...already has two "accidents" (minor) under his belt. He's already on his way to beating my record and he doesn't even have his license yet. ;)
    Aprillini said...
    It took me a while to figure out that when people say they support the troops...they mean they hope you get your sorry ass home so they can kiss it. All in all, not a bad IDEA. The reality probably isn't so cool. Dunno. I'm not a troop. :) Have fun wherever you are-
    Jade said...
    I hope you enjoy your R&R wherever it may be...Once you re-adjust to home and want to go fishing..let me know :).

    You posts are wonderful, raw, simple yet complicated, real and excellent to read. Thanks for sharing what you feel with us.
    Jessie said...
    Simply put, enjoy your R&R. Drink, be merry, enjoy watching the idiot that keeps walking past his car because he's distracted by the women wearing next to nothing twitching that butt left and right.

    Seriously, go have fun. Enjoy your break from reality into the alternate one for the moment. Blow off some steam.

    Said the Black Sheep.
    Shari said...
    Have a great time and enjoy your R&R! I hope far, faaaaaaaaaar away is ready for you guys.... Have fun,

    David M said...
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 01/29/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
    Jean said...
    You make sense.
    Enjoy those three weeks.
    themorethingschange... said...
    YAHOO!! It's about damn time!

    No cautionary tales -- let'er rip!

    We want photos -- we trust you to censor appropriately....

    Anonymous said...
    I thought you earned your break a long time ago. I'm thinkin' if you had your R&R when you wanted it, we wouldn't have learned so much about you. Now go stock up on your condom stories. Yes, they're gross, and probably won't get you a woman who would want to marry you, but at least it'll give us the funny posts!
    Be careful, though.
    ~Aunt Sandy
    Anonymous said...
    It'd barf you out, knowing how much alike your experience is, with others before you.

    Take it or leave it.
    Vixen said...
    Go, get drunk, get fucked and cause mayhem. No one has the right to judge you so do whatever the fuck you want!
    membrain said...
    I hope you and your buddy have a great time on your R&R. It's certainly about time and your decision to go to a foreign country sounds like an excellent decision.

    Reading your thoughts as you journey through an experience that we can only begin to grasp has been an amazing experience. I enjoy reading in general but this, this is very special.

    I think that this is the only site (counting the original) that starts BEFORE you enlisted. Certainly I haven't found another like it. How unique is that?

    So enjoy your leave and thanks again for sharing the whole thing with us.
    Army Sergeant said...
    I don't know, I support the troops but not the war, but I'm also a troop, so it's about half selfish to support myself.

    Have fun!
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