It's been over two years since I was last in the desert. I remember my time there vividly, but I don't really remember the time leading up to it. Over the past few weeks, I've been trying to mentally prepare myself for this deployment, but I don't really remember how. This is my eighth deployment and my forth to Southwest Asia, so you'd think I'd be a seasoned pro at prepratory work, but for some reason, the preparation isn't the part with which I'm familiar. Plus, every deployment is different; therefore, getting ready to leave for each deployment is different.
It's weird how things sneak up on you. I've known for several months that I'd be leaving in early September, but now our departure date is a week and a half away. Don't get me wrong. I'm ready to go. I've done all my necessary out-processing, taken care of getting stripes and patches sewn on my DCUs, worked out bill-paying with Ryan, and tons of other check-list items. Basically, all I have to do is pack my bags and get on the plane. I just can't believe it's nearly here.
I keep telling people I'm looking forward to it, and I am. Really. Of course, it's going to be hard to say good-bye to all the people I hang out with every week. I'll miss Roosters every Thursday. I doubt my bed over there will be as comfortable as the one in my bedroom. I'll miss Autumn and all the big holidays.
However, it's going to be a really productive time for me personally. I have a big list of books to read. I'm guaranteed to lose the gut that has been growing around my mid-section lately. There won't be any beer (which probably accounts for most of said gut), so it will be sort of a detox period. I won't be wasting so much time on the internet. Plus, I'll have a nice surplus of funds upon my return.
The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the depression I usually go through when I get back. One goes through so many changes on a deployment. Not to mention, so much changes at home station. Relationships are strained as people on opposite sides of the world have different experiences and reactions to their surroundings. Nearly every deployment from which I've returned is followed by a brief depression. It's nothing serious, and there's not really anything I or anyone else can do to alleviate or hasten it. It's just something that happens and I have to endure it. I hope nobody takes it personally.
Speaking of taking things personally, answering questions about Iraq is getting kinda old. I feel like I've told the whole deployment scenario a billion times. The questions are always the same and everyone feigns concern, but honestly, I just wish people wouldn't make such a big deal about it. There's really nothing to worry about, and it just makes me feel bad when people tell me they're going to worry about me while I'm gone. Worry doesn't do anyone a bit of good. It just causes ulcers. I'll be much happier knowing people are going about their lives, while sending up an occasional prayer (and maybe sending over a box of cookies). God will take care of me. I promise.