Yep, this is my last week in Iraq. There were times I thought this moment would never come, but now I'm amazed it is here. I am definitely ready though. We talk about running all the way through the finish line. I think I got a leg cramp last week. Three days in a row I was bone tired. My motivation is also seriously lacking. I'm trying to stay focused on the things I have to get done this week.
I was asked if I will miss this place. I won't miss being here, but there are aspects of it I will miss.
First and foremost, the people. The people are not much different from those I work with back in the Pentagon, but the shared experience of being here changes things. Last night was a perfect example. I finished my day by having dinner with my State Department friends. One of their translators is an Iraqi-born woman whose family owns a restaurant in Arizona. She is an amazing cook. She made a huge spread of food for the State group, a reporter and cameraman from Fox News, and me. We enjoyed some delicious Iraqi food and great conversation. That type of experience isn't unique to here, but I appreciate it more when deployed because it is a nice escape from being here.
The job. The sad truth is, as a member of the military, working in a combat zone is what I train and prepare for throughout my career. I'm certainly not a warmonger, but over here I see a direct application of what I do and immediate results. I've received a lot of positive feedback lately, so I feel I made a difference here. I don't get the same job satisfaction at the Pentagon. This is one of the main reasons I volunteered to deploy to Iraq. For lack of a better phrase, this is where the action is and I wanted to come here to do my part.
The simple life. When I was back in the States in February, I was just blown away by all the options us Americans have, whether it's shopping, eating, things to do, or whatever. There is something to be said for a more simplistic lifestyle. I'm not talking Walden Pond simple here, but less distractions, less noise (okay, other than the frickin' F-16s taking off, someone please make them stop! sorry), less commercialism. The lack of options draws people together and makes it easier to focus on things such as staying in shape.
So while I will happily say goodbye to Iraq next week, in some ways I will look back fondly on my time here