It was late June 2004 when I boarded a C-130 for my vacation from war. From mortars and rockets. From the weight of a flak vest, kevlar, M-16 and two full magazines. From tracing the same route around the perimeter of the airbase everyday in a deuce and a half, past the trash-burn pit and into the center of the air field where the F-15s took off. So we could collect, load, and deliver packages for the 500 soldiers of an Aviation Maintenance Battalion. It wasn’t time for actual homecoming yet, so I didn’t have to face the awkward, permanent, real-life adjustment. To me, this was fanfucking-tastic.

I was glad to spend some of my tax-free combat pay on shopping for some summer clothing, and drum and bass and breaks records to update my collection. To spend time eating at restaurants, loitering in coffee shops and drinking in bars of the small, gray city from which I deployed—Rochester, N.Y. During this rare, cool summer, the temperature average hovered in the 70s the entire two weeks I was home.

Re-learning how to apply makeup to my face made me feel like I was thirteen again. The sun did to me what it did to the beautiful Iraqi children who waved to us from the other side of LSA, Logistic Support Area, Anaconda’s perimeter fence. Many had light eyes that glowed on their tan faces, surrounded by multiple shades of sun-bleached hair. 

The makeup looked uncomfortable sitting on my tan skin, combined with bright, orangey-auburn hair. I met with my friend Trina before heading downtown to the club. We had a history as partners on many questionable adventures. Her makeup was always on point and paired well with her expensive-looking halter top and platinum blonde hair. A super witty, funny, 5’10" mass of socialite mess. Who, despite all her faults, would still give a well-informed, comical, verbal ass beating to anyone who dared test her. 

 

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