Saturday, January 5, 2008

Home Sweet Home

When the very full chartered jumbo jet landed in America, the flight attendant said to all of us going home for two weeks mid-tour leave, “Welcome to the ‘Land of the Free’ thanks to you.” A surge of overwhelming gratitude came over me, not because of the compliment only, but because of the history and the beauty of America and the millions of men and women who’ve sacrificed so much.

There are occasions in life when your dreams and wishes meet the here and now—when you are where you want to be and you’re doing what you want to do. There are terms like nirvana, Shangri-La and utopia that perhaps describe in some small way this feeling and this grand part of life. That’s the way I feel now being here at home with my wife and my children.

I find myself having spurts of sheer and utter gratitude. It’s a euphoric and emotional sensation. I can finally relax. Aside from the joy of being with my family, I can take a bath, walk barefoot on carpet and feel all the comforts of hearth and home.

Being in Iraq is like being forced to be roommates with someone who annoys you and who you’ll never see yourself becoming friends with.

Home-cooked meals are incredibly delicious. When I ate the first time, though, I got an odd sensation in my stomach. I felt some pain. I was reminded of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. She got sick the first time she ate after going without for so long. I’ve gone without real food for so long. Either that or it was changing the raunchy diaper of our youngest child right before dinner that made me sick. I actually gagged. I never was really good at changing diapers, but really, has it been that long?

Finally, why in the world would I blog right now instead of be with my family? Well, I’ve kept a faithful journal for over 20 years. There are great benefits to record keeping. And, secondly, I’m quitting for at least a couple weeks…and ignoring email, phone calls, and everyone and everything else but family: the most important thing in life.

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