Over the course of the last year and a half my life has been in a transitory state. My job moved me, my family wasn't prepared to move, then we were except we weren't, then we moved anyway. My job required a lot of training at places other than the Jewel of Alabama to which I moved, then the spot I had hoped to be able to move at work didn't materialize as planned/hoped. Ultimately, my wife and I had a choice to make that resulted in me not sleeping in the same bed as her every night. As my friend Jon Stolpe would say, I've been stretched.
My last few posts have been about getting to where I am now, there's more to come, but first a description of why I came to be in a place called Herat.
When I headed for Herat I knew that there were things I'd be doing without. I have grown accustomed to drinking creamer in my coffee while waking up and reading my daily Bible readings. I drink it raw other places, but at home I like it creamed. Carmel machiatto has been my choice of late, but before that it was french Vanilla. This was an item I imagined I would have to give up, I was wrong. I have had Coffeemate french Vanilla cream in my first cup of coffee from the dining hall most days now. So A Year Without Creamered Coffee was out.
Never having really been out of the country I was worried about Montezuma's Revenge, the Turkish Trots, the Afghani A. . . well, let's just say torn up stomach from unfamiliar foods. As a result, I tried eating a lot of yogurt with Acidophilus in it. Other than wondering why they abbreviate the Lactobacillus of L. Acidophilus all I know is that it seems to have worked. But it was the two weeks leading up to my arrival that I ate it. Since hitting the country I have stopped. This mostly due to the more runny state of yogurt here. So, A Year of Eating Yogurt was out.
There were several titles that are still appropriate. I haven't driven here yet, but A Year Without Driving didn't seem right. A Year of Backsliding seems appropriate, not because I can't go to church, but I don't anticipate going often because we do work 7 days a week. Clearly that shows another rejected title, A Year Without a Day Off.
For a guy that grew up in the Jewel of Mississippi--Biloxi-- with the world's largest man-made beach, it might seem appropriate to be A Year Without the Beach, or A Year Without Seeing or Cutting the Grass. A Year Without Television will not be accurate because while we don't get cable over here and all the sporting events happen at odd hours, there is Armed Forces Network. Strangely for a guy that doesn't watch commercials at home thanks to TiVO, I like the commercials on AFN more that the shows.
It sounds gross to say A Year Without Taking a Bath, until you recognize I didn't say without showering, there are no tubs in Camp Stone. A Year Without Carrying a Key sounds nice, and seems accurate, but after much deliberation I went with my first thought.
For those that know me, you know I've always loved to dress nicely. Not in the latest fads or styles, but suit and tie are comfortable to me. I have a picture at the age of 4 wearing a sport coat and one at 6 in a tie. Like everyone in the 70s I had a baby-blue 3 piece leisure suit. Don't deny it, if you're a male that lived through the decade, you had one. I'm not asking you to admit how long into the 80s you owned/wore it, just admit you owned one. For the record I outgrew mine quickly so it didn't make it much past the bicentennial.
Oftentimes I have found myself wearing a tie to work when no one else did. I've taken heat for it, but it rolls off me like water under a duck's butt. I'm comfortable in a tie. So much so that if you ever see me with a tie that's loosened around my neck you'd probably be better served to just leave me alone because it takes a lot to piss me off enough to walk around without the Windsor knot tightly around my neck.
While I have dress pants here (haven't worn them since I left Virginia) and one dress shirt, there are no ties. No cartoon characters, no bow ties, no Croatian Military Awards to be found. There are no ties to be found in the wall locker with my clothes. I have left behind the comfortable clothes and atmosphere that has become my world and stepped into another phase.
A Year Without Wearing a Tie has begun. God help us all let's see where it takes us.