So, I thought I would take a break from non-stop vacation planning to jot down a few words about Christmas here at Camp Marmal. I'll start with the part where I was sitting in my office on Christmas Eve feeling sorry for myself. Well, I guess I need to go back further than that. See, back in November (before Thanksgiving), I told Nick that, even though we were both really busy, it would be really nice if we could at least meet up for Christmas and, being that it was his turn to come here, naturally it would be at Camp Marmal. Well, weeks passed and Nick never asked his supervisor if he could visit. Initially, I bugged him a little bit about talking to his supervisor because it's not exactly like you can just go online and book a ticket to another part of Afghanistan (well, you can from some places, but not where he is located). About a week prior, I decided to turn up the heat, but Nick didn't seem like he was going to ask because he was busy and some of the other guys were on vacation and things like that, so I pretty much abandoned the idea altogether and resigned myself to spending Christmas alone (oh, and of course to being totally miserable).
Which brings us back to Christmas Eve and me sitting at my desk alone. I was spending the morning checking my email, facebook, msn.com - you know, the usual - when I got a call. Nick had not called me the night before because my phone died (only for an hour though), so in the back of the mind there was a glimmer of hope that maybe Nick had made it on a flight and decided to surprise me. That hope was squashed when I came across an email from Nick's work account early that same morning indicating that Nick was not in fact on his way to see me, but very much still in his office. Instantly, my resolve was restored to pretend as if Christmas was just another day and to "being miserable". About the time that I was giving everyone in the office my best sullen look, my phone rang. It was Nick asking me what I was doing. Uh, nothing, duh. He said something smart like "oh, I thought you might be on your way here..." To which I responded, "Uh, I think it is your turn to come here" (probably not that nice). I was not happy and it's probably a good thing that the cell phone cut out.
A few minutes later and another ring. This time I was not answering. I was sulking and that phone could just keep ringing all day for all I cared. A few minutes went by and another ring. This time I realized it was getting on every one's nerves, so I answered (after all, it could be work - not just me wanting to continue our little spat). So I did. It was Nick and he asked, again, what I was doing. Same answer as the first time (duh). This time I got a different response from the other end.
"Well, I'll be in MeS in an hour," he said.
Unfortunately, I have to admit, even my inner cool broke down when he said that. The widest, uncontainable smile spread across my face and I immediately tried to pull it back in (I was suppose to be "being miserable" but now I was elated). I checked with him again to confirm and it was true; he was on his way to Camp Marmal to see me and he was staying for 3 whole days!!! I would like to say that I expected this from the start, but I truly had pushed the thought of a Christmas visit out of my mind. Now, like the Killers said, all I could do was smile like I meant it. It was like a breath of fresh air after being stuffed in the Bear Village bathroom.
Everything had changed. What had seemed like a death march to R&R (it had been two and a half months since our last meeting and another month and half until R&R) now felt like I had been given a last minute reprieve. Perhaps, you can call it a renewal of faith, but that little bit of effort was the absolute best Christmas gift I could have ever, ever received. Above all else, it made me realize how infallible (within reason) Nick really is and how much he really cares about me. It's not easy or fun to get from one place to another when you are deployed. In fact, some people will do anything just so they don't have to transit through theater, including giving up their R&R entirely. You have to fly on an unheated, cramped aircraft in all your gear (which weighs a ton) and normally make an overnight stop where you have to sleep in transient housing (not nice). I guess it is hard to describe unless you live it, but it just makes me so thankful for what I have in my life and, more importantly, the person with which I get to share it.
Not only that, but I had been enlisted to pull guard duty for a 2-hour block on Christmas, so the Soldiers could have the day off. I didn't fight it because I figured, eh, what else do I have to do? By the time I found out that Nick was on his way, it was really too late for me to change it, so what did Nick do? He piled on his gear again and came and pulled guard with me, never complaining once. I would have been bitching the whole time if the shoe had been on the other foot. We talked for the entire two hours about all the things it's hard to talk about over the limited cell phone service over here. To top it off, by the time we got off guard shift, the DFAC was already cleaning up Christmas dinner, so we literally had to try to scrape off whatever we could as they took the food out to dump it.
All-in-all, the visit really did a lot towards my rejuvenation. I was starting to really get burnt out and taking it out on those around me. Now, with 30 days until we go on R&R, I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm also starting to see that light of how truly, dare I say, blessed? I truly am. I really lucked out in life and the marriage department. I normally never win anything, but I think I definitely won this one. Like they always say, you really don't know what you've got until it's gone, and while I had come to the conclusion that absence does not make the heart grow fonder (if anything it makes the heart grow weaker), I'm beginning to think that I had always been misinterpreting that saying. I don't think that absence, by nature, increases one's desire for another person. In fact, I think it's quite the opposite. I think what they meant to say is that once you are finally reunited, you realize that the other person meant more to you than you had ever really realized; hence, making it seem as though you are now "fonder" of the other person.
Whatever it means, this visit could not have come at a better time. Like I said, 30 days until R&R, then about 100 left. Then, the rest of our lives and happily ever after. Can't wait for what's next. =)