For a lot of us here in Afghanistan, we often find it quite difficult to look at the bright side of day to find happiness in moments of anguish. Now that the holidays are here and the blues of missing loved ones and being missed have arrived ever so suddenly as the morning chill in the air. The days here have grown shorter.....colder....... and with them soldiers patience as well as their hope as I have seen it as I walk through my office during the day. That one person, no matter what, who you could find in the jovialist of moods during sheer terror is just as glum as the scrooge of them all. It would be a lie if I didn't say it, but I am that person whose smile has dimmed in brightness with every loving holiday memory of home I can recall. Even on days where the sun shines bright the stress of work and not being able to reach out to that one you love builds some of the most negitive perceptions on life and its beauty. However, there comes a point where the thought of missing home and fawning over the short comings of attaining the comfort you once knew gets really old exceptionally fast.
Just a few days ago I was out driving around on the FOB with my GATOR headed over to the PX to pickup some of the household good and neccesites that had become delinquent. As I got farther along on my travels I began to take a look out along the snowcapped ridgelines and it brought me to a slow down at the next stop sign. Looking at them then brought to mind one the beautiful memories of where I onced lived that has left me with images that warm heart.
You see, before I was ever deployed to Afghainstan....even before I was assigned at Fort Bragg, I was stationed out in Ft. Huachuca located in Sierra Vista, AZ. When I first arrvived I couldn't help but stand there and ask myself...."where the hell am I?" The taxi ride to the base felt like an eternity from the airport in Tucson and I saw nothing but rolling hills and the Sierra Nevada Mountains for miles that seemed to canalize Interstate 10. After arriving and checking into the post with my unit, I was informed that due to the lack of housing on the post, I would be required to move off base and collect BAH. Now, for all us soldiers, that's not the raw end of the deal. But when your orders are void due to change from TDY in route to PCS and you can't collect the housing money until you have the correct orders in hand.....the deal goes from raw to rotten. I remember feeling so frustrated over the situation that the Army had dumped me in and most of all I knew no one there that would let me vent to them.
That next day I drove onto post to survey the area and familiarize myself with the surroundings and location that would be required for me to visit on the regular. I ended up getting lost up some unimproved road that led me into the Huachuca Canyon in the mountains with no other way out but the way in which I came. I decided, "ehhh what the hell...I'll go for a hike" This hike is probably the one moment that I can say that all of my frustration, hurt, stress, and sadness over being there was non-existent. For as far as the sight stretched, I could nothing but beatiful peaks and landscape that made me feel like the heavens had rested on this one little spot of the vast green earth. In that moment, my mind began to change about the situation I was in and started giving me hope in the days that proceeded me. Even though it would be another five months before I would begin my training course, I let optimism fulfill the skepticisms inside me. I watched the sunset from the top of mountain that evening and proceeded down the hill to my vehicle after taking in the monet of landscapes. On my drive back to my apartment I couldn't help but to think the best of days is yet to find me.
Before I knew it, I found myself living in an apartment that overlooked the mountains across the street on base that always helped to being in the sunshine on the most dreary mornings.
I met my best of friends and one of which lived right next door to me at Garden Plaza. I developed an amazing friendship with him and had myself the craziest and memorable times in 2010-2011.
The days and nights I spent in some of the most beautiful and happening spots in AZ leaves me reminiscing back almost to a point where I could relive them. Like the nights at the University of AZ where the Wildcats would suit up for the big game against one of their pac-10 match ups. The nights over drinks and partying in a college town that seemed to have the nost potential to offer in Southern Arizona. All the nights McMath and I would always bring a story to tell on Monday that left everybody on the floor rolling. The nights at Rusty's sports bar watching the UFC matchups with McMath and Nate that had us all up on the tables cheering as if it would be the edge for the victor. The nights at Maloney's where I couldn't help but to dance my ass off and climb the dance poll like the show off that I was trying to be.
While I was there I competed as a member of the AZ running club that helped to build my endurance and be apart of a winning team in all of our races. THE ARMY TEAM HOOAH!!!
Being a hold under for school for six solid months gave me all the opportunity to travel all over the the west and see the places I never thought I find myself standing in. Places like Phoenix, Flagstaff, Sedona and Bisbee, AZ...Las Vegas, NV...Albaquerque, NM ...San Diego and Los Angeles CA...and finally Tacoma and Seattle, Washington. Oh how I miss it!!!!
Most of all the one very existance that made my experience in AZ what truly was, my relationship. Just when it seemed like things couldn't better themselves anymore, there stood the love of my life. For two straight months I found myself loving life in the most undeniable ways. I couldn't help but to feel like all the puzzle pieces came together for all the right reasons leaving me feeling like I never wanted it all to end. I ended leaving AZ two months down the road, but not without knowing that I had made the best out of what have could have been an unpleasent experience. Leaving my girlfriend behind to PCS to Fort Bragg was by far the most unpleasent of it all and to think I walked up that mountain thinking that this would be the longest year of my life.
Now I am here in a place that feels like it has no escape and the peril and sadness can only increase as we get closer to Christmas. After reliving all of that I sped a away from that stop sign feeling rejuvinated as if I had gone back in time to visit it all over again. Sitting here after typing all of that, I feel like all the great memories that I hold dear for the most amazing reasons came back to me. It all started by taking the time to appreciate the more enjoyable side of me being here in combat zone. It proved to me as much as I hope to have proved to those reading this, that you truely can find the beauty in the ugliest of situations.