So I have been on leave for the last week or so, slowly traveling across the country with what little personal belongings I have. I got to spend three days with my kids in New Hampshire before setting out across the US. It has been a terrific journey, and I think will remember it as my passing from one life to another. For those of you who don’t already know, I finalized the last stages of my divorce, and it should be completed by the time I return to Iraq. I guess I could call this journey a type of cleansing experience. I know I did everything I could, and more importantly everything that I was supposed to do, and it didn’t work out.
I have seen a lot this time across the country, and it has been lots of fun. I am accompanied by Deanna, my new girlfriend, whose wisdom, complexity, and common sense seem to inspire me. We have seen New York City and stayed with friends in Long Island. We walked around Boston, Nashville, Albuquerque, a number of other small towns and cities. We have shopped for Kachinka dolls on the Continental Divide, visited the Presley’s, and viewed the largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere. (A strange sight, but inspiring.)
One of the places we visited, sort of on a whim, was the Oklahoma National Memorial. We had intended to go and spend an hour there, then get lunch. We ended up staying for the better part of a day, and by the time it was over, we were too drained for much more. The Memorial, at the site of the Alfred Murrah Center, was built to honor those who gave their lives and to those who fought to keep others alive, when the Government building was destroyed. It was a very moving and emotional tour. The pictures, displays, interaction, as well as the recordings, footage, and artifacts, really made you feel a part of the horrendous tragedy. There is a timeline on the building and dedication of the memorial, and its interesting to see how this memorial developed, and make some correlations to the current effort to develop the World Trade Center Memorial. I highly recommend this tour to anybody.
We spend a fun half day at Graceland. (I know, I didn’t really believe it either.) It really is a wonderful little place, full of musical history. I like Elvis and his music, and I actually had a wonderful time touring the house, the museums, and listening to his musical history. It was a delightful trip, but not one I could see people making some yearly pilgrimage to. We saw some guy from the Backstreet boys, who was also there touring, and Deanna was all excited but I couldn’t get her to go up and get a picture. She secretly snapped one or two while I wasn’t looking, though
I am getting ready to go back to Iraq, and really not looking forward to it. I guess, having been around real people for the past two weeks, I can see how people don’t understand what is going on in Iraq. Americans tend to live for the moment, and only seem to think that what is important is what is right in front of them. I was sitting at the airport in Atlanta, and watching the people walking by, listening to their conversations. It’s almost as if there really isn’t a war going on at all, just from the topics. Only one station in the airport is tuned into the news. The rest are set to ESPN. As I sit here in my cammies, I note that only one or two people seem to notice me, and so far, only one person has even bothered to acknowledge my presence. Not that it’s a bad thing, but a person in cammies tends to stand out, and you would think that I would be noticeable. One person did stop and say thank you for what you do, I thought that was nice. It just appears that not too many people say that any more.