Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Life in a Box

I haven't had much time to journal lately. Things at the unit have picked up considerably, and as we prepare for deployment I find that I often come home simply too tired to write. I have a six-mile rucksack march tomorrow morning, but knowing our company First Sergeant, the "ruck march" will really be more of a "ruck run." After the brutal five-mile run I endured this morning with A-Group, I'm looking forward to tomorrow with a mixed sense of irritation and dread.

Preparations for shipment are finally underway. In the next several weeks, we will be switching to the new Army Combat Uniform (ACU). In lieu of woodland green or desert beige, these upgraded uniforms boast a mottled digital grey color scheme, and are intended for use in both garrison and combat environments. Honestly, I hear that they retain heat worse than our current garb, but on the high side, the boots for the uniform are the familiar desert suede, which means that at least I won't have to endure the daily bullshit of polishing and flame-sealing. Just as well. Shit destroys the boot anyway.

We've also been instructed to prepare our footlockers. Commonly known as "gorillas," these heavy-duty plastic chests are cheap and durable, and will be used to carry the first of our belongings to our duty station in the desert. I've started thinking about what I intend to pack--laptop and books, obviously, as well as possibly my Xbox and games. Also on the list will be extra clothing and uniforms. I've decided to send my Gorilla out with a generous supply of blank journals, as I suspect I'll have little time to compose blog entries while sitting on a Department of Defense computer. Many of my future entries, I think, will simply be transcripts of these hard-copy journals, as well as possibly letters to my wife and family from the sandbox. I expect that, at least for a little while, my journal entries will become fewer and farther between, and I am considering adding my wife Anne to the list of contributors to this blog. If nothing else, this might allow me more easily to keep this blog updated regularly, as well as shed some light into the dynamic of our marriage. Time will tell.

There is, however, something vaguely sobering about preparing a footlocker for deployment. When I stare into that empty container, I find myself wondering what possessions will be most important to keeping up my morale in the desert. It's like my life is there, sitting inside that box, and right now it just looks so very empty. It fills me with swells of alternating sorrow and fear. There are times when I question the choices and circumstances which led me here, and right now all those doubts seem to be embodied in this 4' x 1.5' x 1.5' plastic box.

We take small things with us into the sand, things which might remind us of peace and of home. But what are these things, other than exactly that--things? As with every other part of our lives, we fill up the void with objects and keepsakes, trying to drown out the pain for want of what we really need to be happy.

There was a time when I prided myself on being able to pack up the sum of my possessions in less than fifteen minutes. This appealed to the ascetic in me, and truth be told I used to look with scorn upon those who didn't know how to pack light. But now, facing a year alone in the desert, I try to find things to fill up that box, and suddenly I'm no longer sure if I'm packing too much, or perhaps not enough.


Blogger Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

You can never pack enough crap.

Deployments are boring. I use the time to read, ALOT - or waste time learning useless bullshit on wikipedia.

4:38 AM  

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