The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

EUROPEAN INTERLUDE |

June 24, 2008

EUROPEAN INTERLUDE
Name: LT G
Posting date: 6/24/08
Stationed in: Iraq
Hometown: Reno, Nevada
Milblog: Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal

In this post-modern world of war and famine, 24-hour news coverage, and emo music, it's easy to forget that something as ancient as romance can be true and pure and overwhelming and original and...right.

Big ups to Italia for the assist on that one.

Cue whirlwind week of possibility.

Greet LT Demolition in the airport with a fist-pound.

This place is weird he says.

I think we're the weird ones now.

Yeah. I guess you're right.

Scouts out. To the hostel we go where we find City Girl and The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-She-Devil (inside joke, we're friends, I swear) watching soccer. Awkward hug.

Umm. Hi.

Hi. How was war?

Umm. Different. How was life?

Difficult.

Right.

Yeah.

Let's eat!

Then the tourist carnival; animal crackers of pandemonium all around. With pasta. I am Maximus Decimus Meridius at the Colosseum. I won't shave for my girlfriend, but I'll shave for the Pope, because you know, he's the freaking Pope. The real Pantheon, the one that doesn't include Captain Jack Sparrow.

And some creeks of flowing red wine. And an accordion dude. And singing hippies on the Spanish Steps.

And you know what? All things considered, this is pretty awesomely normal. Or is it normally awesome?

They both work.

Ahh, Italy. Onto Sienna. Romantic strolls through Tuscan plazas, under a flashlight moon that beams new hopes and old dreams alike.

For fuck's sake, I'm a sapstar.

And then, after a rainy day spent bantering underneath umbrellas, I say to hell with it. I love her and I love her now and I know that will not change so what am I waiting for? No sane woman would ever put up with you or a deployment or a mixture of both.

Good thing I'm not attracted to the sane.

Today is so much better than yesterday. And tomorrow is no guarantee. We both know that now. So yeah. Umm. I'm taking a walk. I need...nail clippers. Yes. Nail clippers. Gah woman, I know it's hailing water-bullets! I'll be right back. Tell Demolition to mind the house, I'm hunting and gathering here.

Alright. Swiped an example from her jewelry bag to get the right size. Now I need to find a ring shop that takes me seriously, despite my terrorist mutton-chops, baggy plaid shorts, and plain white tee. And no, I don't speak a lick of Italian. This should be interesting.

It was.

Wake up the next morning and check to make sure it's still in the hiding place. Safe as a hibernating bear. Okay. You sure about this? I'm pretty sure matters like this are pondered over. Let's ponder.

I always said I'd wait until I was 35. Well, after half-a-year in Iraq, I feel like I'm 35. Commitment issues with love don't really seem like such a big deal after you deal with commitment issues with life.

Okay. Fair enough. It's a little spontaneous, don't you think?

Yes. But the best decisions in your existence have been spontaneous. Writing for the school paper. Going to Wake. Becoming a fratdawg.

This is a slightly bigger deal. And by slightly, I mean massively.

Okay. How about being born? Ten weeks early, that was pretty spontaneous, and all things considered, it worked out for you. Same with getting baptized. You could over-think anything if you allowed yourself, too. Spontaneous action is the only reason you've ever accomplished anything. Ever.

Touche.

For two weeks, you danced on the blackest edge, and because you don't listen, made her do it, too. That will not happen again. It's okay, though. You survived the test, and grew up. It happens to the best of us, even those of us with hero complexes.

Now you know. For sure. For surest's sure.

Now we wait. For the right moment. The right place. The rightest right.

And try not to look like too nervous in the mean time. Stuttering like an idiot savant every time she asks you a simple question like please pass the salt isn't helping matters.

Frago. Venice is drenched in a hurricane, and we're not talking the metaphorical kind here. Good. Let's avoid that cliche. Let's stay on this coast. Onto the Cinque Terre! Lead the way Demolition and The-Artist-Formerly-Known-As-She-Devil. Me and City Girl, we're too busy being disgustingly stellar back here.

Don't let the haters hate. Appreciate.

Strolls along the beachfront. A long, winding lunch, and the barest of emotions shared overlooking the sprawling sea in colors too vivid for this world. And a sun just as fleeting as this holiday escape, teasing we mortals with forever rays.

The sapstar striketh anew.

And then it was. The next morning brings the verbal leaves, the crunchy summer-red ones that mean we must go our separate ways. Time. It waits. For no. One. Now or never. Never or now.

Night. A crescent moon, loaned to Italia by way of my Arab friends down yonder in the Cradle of Civilization. One last walk on the beach, letting the crashing waves speak for us in languages we don't need to understand. Deep breath. You can't mess this up, you Irish bastard. Back in the day, during all
those basketball games with the boys, you prided yourself on being the clutchest of the clutch, the little point guard with a champion's swagger and a first step to the left that could shake anyone.

Yeah, but this ain't basketball.

I'm still fucking clutch, though. Smoother than ice.

Pause at a bench. One last deep breath. Soak in the ivory skin and refined grace and fiery auburn hair and jade ovals and brimming idealism and natural intellect and unrelenting sass that initiated this domino rally of classical romance way back when.

What follows is a word-valentine that I won't share, out of deference to all things personal. Even in the internet age, privacy can and should exist. All you need to know is her response:

I absolutely will.

Revoke my man-card. I could care less. Hearts explode in millennial fireworks that know no limitations of time. Viva. This.

All's fair. In love and...what's that last part, again?

Comments

Congratulations! All the best!
Clara

Congratulations, you big Irish romantic. Wonderful news. Italy is so damned enduring, and that helps it work its magic.

Congrats! I only hope the asking wasn't as long as the read to get to the response. Best of luck! After 20 years of deploying my beautiful bride is still with me so...don't sweat the small stuff. Enjoy each other, the rest of life will work itself out.

Congratulations!!! Prepare for many years of happiness! Age doesn't make a good marriage, love does!
Take it from a 20 yr old bride in our 59th year!

Beautiful! The bride of my youth is still as wonderfully alluring as she was then, and the relationship is deeper every day, 25 years later, may you both experience the same, Congratulations!

Congrats!

The good Lord just might fill your life with little gees. Best wished to you and the future Mrs. G whatever is in store.

Congratulations and good luck, LT!

May the road rise up to meet you... but not because of an IED... may the wind be ever at your back, and may He hold you both in the palm of His hand.

Congratulations. And much happiness to both of you. Mama G must be very proud of her young warrior.

I hope this doesn't mean we will see less of you here. I never fail to look for your blog updates.

War may not be fair, but good luck with the rest of it! Well done, laddie :)

Stellar. Fabulous. Amazing. Congrats and good luck!

Great writing!!! Ending with 3 words that will never leave you "I absolutely will"....those words.....good stufff...

Congratulations to you both!

Way cool; love your blog
Stay safe

Thank you for sharing, that was so beautiful...:)

Add my congratulations to the many. Job well done! May you both "live long and prosper".

Congratulations to the two of you!
Thanks for making my weekend with your beautiful post.
Long life and happiness to the both of you.

Man-card registered for life. Congratulations to you both.

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