On August 15th I was told by my platoon sergeant not to buy tickets home for Christmas. We might be on standby for deployment which means we can leave at any time to go somewhere. I was already planning my days for when I got home. I was excited for winter because that simply meant I was almost home. As far as I know I might come home and I might not. But that’s just a part of the job. And these tough guys out in Iraq really don’t want me to go home apparently. Buncha jerks.

We’ve been working hard here. A lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights. It gets cold. And it rains when it’s cold. When we stay out overnight we have to wake up to “pull security” for an hour in the middle of the night. Sometimes two hours. And it is the most miserable thing imaginable. But even at 2 a.m in the morning pulling security in the rain all alone I think to myself that every miserable day of training and every miserable day out in the field I think it’s just one day closer to home. And that’s what it’s all about. I don’t work for the weekend here. I work for that flight home. I always daydream about the moment I see everyone. And it is going to be one of those times I think about for the rest of my life. The summer is gone and now winter is on the way. And pretty soon I’ll be back again to stay.

In the Field

I don’t know if you guys know this but when I was younger I was a big deal.
I was an athlete believe it or not.
I was every baseball coach’s wet dream.
I remember being on a team with Rocco Fanella.
We dominated every year.
We were the Dillon Panthers of Elmwood Park Baseball.
I remember one World Series when I struck out the last batter.
We won it all.
The catcher ran up to me and I picked him up as he raised his glove.
I swear there were 50,000 people at the game.
Rocco charged us from short stop and his dad followed.
It was a celebration I dreamed about.
Tonight in Germany I walked past a baseball field.
I sat in the dugout for a few minutes.
I held on to the chain link fence looking out onto the field.
I tried to remember every moment that took place on a diamond but there wasn’t enough time.
I tried to replay me knocking in the game winning run.
I saw myself making the game-saving play.
I remember being the best.
I later stood in the batters box and pictured it all in my head.
Those were the best days of my life.

Last night there wasn’t much for me to do in Germany.
The people I hang out with were doing other things.
That was ok with me.
I went and bought myself 12 beers from the store.
That should hold me over for the night.
I had a few in my room with the radio on.
Once I found my buzz I decided to take a few beers and go for a walk.
I hit a trail that was leading nowhere.
I followed the stones as I sipped from my beer.
Music playing from the phone in my pocket.
Tall trees on each side of the dark path.
The sun set behind the trees miles away.
I found a spot to stay for a while.
I saw the stars from my back.
They reminded me of the stars in Minnesota.
Here is where I thought about the ones back home.
If you’re reading this I can almost guarantee I thought about you.
Lying there I found peace for a while.
No work in the morning and no time to be back.
You can say I stayed for a minute.
As the songs went on the beer bottles found their way to the tree line.
I stayed a minute longer until some clouds came through.
I walked back slowly with a smile on my face.
I’ll be here for three years.
Thank God I found my peace with Germany.

I remember the summer of 2013.
I remember hanging out with friends and drinking ice cold beer.
I remember being with my family on holidays.
I remember the 4th of July. Well, parts of it.
I remember conversations with my closest friends.
We would talk about the summer ahead of us and the ones behind us.
I remember getting yelled at by our neighbors for laughing to loud in the yard.
I remember talking about girls with none present.
The jokes about that go on for days.
I remember being with the funniest people I know.
I remember sleepless nights at Wills.
I remember playing bags in Jims yard, bonfires at Angels.

I remember planning a trip to Michigan.
I remember every minute of being there.
I remember spotting the bald eagle and pulling eight largemouth bass from smith lake.
I remember when there wasn’t a care in the world.
I remember playing wiffle ball in the yard.
I remember my brothers face every time I rounded the bases.
I remember barbecues and day drinking.

I remember the recruiting station.
I remember riding my bike for hours wondering if this is really what I was going to do.
I remember listening to sad songs.
I remember the tears that fell.
I remember the long talks and the frequent advice.
I remember signing the papers and raising my right hand.
I remember telling my father and my sister.
I remember people congratulating me.

I remember the best times of my life.
Now remembering is all I do.
I can only hope you remember those times as I do.
They’re a lot more meaningful once the memories are put on hold.
Remember the long nights, remember the laughs, and remember me.
The hardest part about being away is wondering if you’re missed or forgotten.