Monday, September 5, 2011

where the buffalo roam

My time spent in the Marines has always been reflected upon with contrastingly mixed feelings. The days spent shivering under layers of frozen sweat always contradicted the finer moments of adrenaline and achievement. But one thing was consistently true: it always felt so good to come home.

The male menstrual cycle manifests itself in the form of drill weekends. The days leading up to drill are filled with dread, the weekend is spent in pain and bitterness. But the liberation that comes on Sunday night almost makes it all worthwhile. All the built up anger and resentment melts away during the victorious drive home.

Whatever was experienced during those weekends was only amplified during our summer-long training operations. Drill was merely a condensed version. In the summer, we would spend months enslaved to the military machine of discipline and disorganization, and come home in an indescribable spirit of emancipation.

All these feelings of freedom, however, were still nothing compared to what I felt after spending the better part of a year in the Muslim world. That homecoming must have been the first time in my life that I truly realized my love for American soil. The smell of trees and grass had never been so fresh, the weight of civilian clothes had never seemed so light, the digestion process of real food had never felt so...well, comfortable. There was nothing that I could do or feel or see or hear or taste without immeasurable gratitude and appreciation, and perhaps even wonder. The never-before known savor of my mom's cooking, the luxury of working faucets and shower heads and clean fingernails, the safety of driving a car without the fear of improvised explosive children blowing off your real axle. It was like I was discovering these things that were all new, like I was actually experiencing life for the first time.

I wonder if heaven will be as such. I suppose all those weekends and summers and years and lifetimes are meant to be spent in suffering, that we should never get too comfortable. I wonder if we should always remember that this world is not where we belong, so that when we do arrive at home, it will finally be true.

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