Well, I made it home in one piece, albeit with a nasty little chest cold (courtesy of the freezing-cold plane from Afghanistan to Germany) and a nasty little insect bite on, of all things, my right eyelid (courtesy, I suspect, of the Army-issue blanket in Tikrit).
But before I begin to think about the sum total of my experiences abroad, let's all join hands and issue a hearty FUCK YOU to the good people at US Airways, who managed to lose all my luggage between Washington and Boston. I traveled with a crew of 22 people to four different countries, toting six pallets full of luggage, wardrobe, musical instruments, stage elements, and memorabilia, and not once was a single piece lost. US Airways left 16 -- sixteen! SIXTEEN!!! -- bags from Flight 2042 in Washington. Nice work, guys. They tried to tell me the bags "didn't make it to the plane on time," which, as I pointed out, was unlikely, given that the flight was delayed an hour for reasons never explained.
Anyway. It is really super to be home, and I'm looking forward to sleeping in a warm bed tonight, getting up whenever I want tomorrow (and hopefully collecting my luggage), eating whatever and whenever I want, and living free of fear and discomfort. Which is something the folks I've met over the past couple of weeks don't ever get to do.
I'm probably not going to have an extended comment in this space about the politics of the war, which, of course, is the only part of the war that really interested me before I went over there. Al wrote an op-ed on the plane, and I helped out, and I think it really expresses what we both feel about the politics of this mess. So I may just post a link to that when we get it done and let that stand.
But I think the "Long Essay" portion of my final exam is going to center around these sorts of semi-existential questions: What does it mean to go someplace in the world you (as a country) don't belong? What does it mean to serve and to sacrifice? What does it mean to wage war? I'm not dumb enough to think I've got all that figured out just by getting the Reader's Digest version of the big show. Somewhere in the mountains of Northern Afghanistan, there are troops living in mud and shooting at Taliban fighters every day -- I didn't really hang out with any of those particular guys.
However, since you've read this far, I hope you'll stay tuned -- I do want to try to do some constructive summing-up (a What Have We Learned? of sorts). I'm also trying to get Owen to send me some pictures, so I can do a big photo post. And I'm still working on a video.
But, for now, I'm going to be drinking tea and sitting in my dad's recliner and feeling a little bit guilty that I made it home for Christmas.
Also, furious with the fucking airline.