Happy Friday, and Happy April Fool's Day. I don't have any jokes or pranks for you. For me, today is as serious as any other day; pranks and surprises and such really freak me out, so I make it a point not to pull any.
Things aren't going so well. On one had, I'm still in the game, still trying to remain positive and keep going. On the other hand, I'm spending most of my time in my apartment, only venturing out for some classes and work. I'm honestly afraid to go to class. Sudden noises like the door buzzer or the phone ringing make me jump out of my chair. I have trouble imagining that I can walk with the crowds going to class. It's not that I don't want to go to class, or do well-- I'm just afraid. I'm way more easily startled and triggered lately.
The anniversary of Desert Storm came and went without much fanfare, as it usually does. I had hoped that once those dates had passed, I'd be able to deal with it better. At this point in 1991, I was just getting back to work at my unit. We'd all been given a couple of weeks off, to rest and relax. I can't tell you what I did with the time, but around early April it was over and then it was back to work cleaning sand out of places it didn't belong.
I didn't know what PTSD was, then. Of course I'd seen movies like Rambo (the first one), but I never equated that with being a Veteran who has images in his/her head that are hard to deal with. No one asked if we were okay when we got back. We were heroes, for a few days. We got to ride in our trucks around town, and people waved and yelled and waved flags as we went by. I remember that a lot of people in my unit, including me, grew less excited about the parade as it went on. We had work to do. Our equipment wasn't going to clean and fix itself. (We also knew and expected that we'd be going back fairly soon. We were close to doing so more than once.)
I 'd been offered the opportunity to stay in country. I declined, wanting to get home-- I'd been on a 15 month remote tour and had just gotten home when I went to Saudi Arabia. Since then I have often wondered, sitting on my porch watching the stars, what would have happened had I stayed. I know history wouldn't have changed much, if at all.
It's easy, once I start thinking about it, to find myself back in the Desert. There are many details I've forgotten, but there are so many that I remember.
Maybe that's why it's been so hard this semester. There's so much going on in my head. I don't feel like I'm really here much of the time. I'm somewhere else. Here doesn't seem real. I feel like it can be taken away any time. Time is supposed to be on a line... if you were to draw it on paper, the past goes infinitely to the left, and the future goes infinitely to the right. Now is a single point on the line. And "now" can be divided into sections that infinitely small.
I don't see time that way, where one point on the time line is a certain distance away from another point. Coming home from Desert Storm may well have been yesterday, or the day before, instead of twenty years ago. Some of the memories are that fresh. Writing this, I've had a few more memories come up to the surface-- small things, mostly, but a few large ones as well. Maybe more than a few.
It's hard to find people that understand, when many of the people around you weren't born when all of that shit went down.