First – a big thanks to the nameless, but wonderfully ego-inflating reader who kindly asked “what happened?”
Luckily, R+R happened. That would be Rest and Recovery, or Rest and Relaxation, or Regroup and Recharge or any other two R words that imply getting out and chilling out.
Suffice to say that I accomplished all the R’s above and a few more to boot. That said, there is a reason why R+R exists, and why I’m already planning my next one. I will also note that while extremely generous (thank you again dear taxpayers) my R+R did started well after my last blog, and ended well before this one.
My Other Home Sweet Home
First, paradoxically, R+R becomes more needed after the effort needed to go on R+R. As I’ve alluded to before, I am something of an “Army of One” in this job, and the very process of going on leave and making arrangements (in most cases) for ongoing activities was exhausting and required whatever diplomatic finesse I might have acquired in the last decade plus of my experience in the Foreign Service.
Secondly, the military axiom that “tactics are for amateurs but logistics is for professionals” was doubly true for me as I had a series of trips and events leading up to my departure which made for an insanely complicated pattern of moving from truck to helo to truck, dropping a bag, hopping another truck, grabbing pre-packed luggage, another truck, another helo and finally a plane to Kabul where my commercial flight picked up. Being the semi-professional that I have become, I was glad that I had laid fallback plans, as it was plan C that finally got me on my way out at the last possible hour before I would have lost my flight and been back to zero.
Suffice to say that it was surreal to start the journey sitting in a Blackhawk helicopter waiting for an F-16 to clear the runway to looking out over the manicured lawns and pools of suburbia. The trip back was equally frenzied with various events leading me to spend each of my first five nights back in Afghanistan in a different location. Luckily, while it is impossible to ever truly master the shifting labyrinth of systems and personalities that make up my work world, and which allow me to move from place to place – it was refreshing to return to Kabul, Bagram, and my own PRT and knowing how and where to find a meal and a shower, and who I needed to talk to get a ride to my next destination, or (more importantly) a cup of coffee…
Sadly, the war was not won (or lost) in my absence, but the seasons marched on and “fighting season” is drawing to a close as the snowcaps that now dot the horizon start to creep downward. The wind is also back with a vengeance, and I expect that the soccer games and afternoon walks will soon be a thing of the past.
Coming Soon to a FOB near you - snow
Anyhow, despite the wicked work hangover it was great to recharge, remember what we have, and come back with new energy and perspective.
Up next – the story of elephants, New England and Cap’n Crunch.