We got off on the wrong foot the last time I was back home. I didn't listen to Rianne and only knew what I wanted to say. So as our conversation evolved, it was me and all me talking over anything she had to offer in the way of a peace gesture. I didn't know what the hell was going on in my head. The enemies were screaming a foul language and got me wrapped up in my own dismal moment in life. Tremors and confusion finally got to me, and I lost it and put my fist through the wall. Breathing heavy, I paused and looked at my hands. What the hell is going on? She tried her best in quelling the demons, shooting arrows at her from my arrogant and belittling words to her. Not what I came here for and that's a fact. Rianne was the kindest girl I knew in my corner of the ring. I had to go. NOW. Unable to process my actions, I left the apartment and headed out and down the street to walk it off.
There was no time to fix up the mess I caused, as duty called, and I was back in the saddle overseas to help in a military hot spot long. It was our assigned mission and was overdue to finish, hopefully before our active-duty Visa's expired. The time blurred as we kept a handle on skirmishes. The drama, ordeals and day to day unknowns had us either at the ready with a signal to pick up and run with it or to finally put an end to the bullshit. Taliban be damned. Politics was a calling card we had to tear up. We all knew what our time in was on the scoreboard. We were on call 24/7 in the thick of what felt like purgatory in Afghanistan. It was nothing like I had ever thought about, dreamed about, or dared to put faith to the test in, but the call to serve came at me and I was in and at the ready at twenty-one years young. Today, was a random calm moment, when it was deemed, 'all quiet on the western front'. We were given a momentary green light to have a time out. The northern district, where we were stationed, reminded me of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. So, a few of us opted to escape reality for a moment and took a trek up the Hindu Kush for a scenic overview of the territory. I swear I could see Mount Washington as just a faint blur in the distance. But it was my mind in overdrive and just a dream scene I made up, nothing more.
And before any further confrontation of chaos happening, we got the word that our combat troops had secured a permanent break in the action, literally. Hooah! Our time in this country was officially declared over and done, and we packed up and headed to the airport. The military need from our country to this country was over. Mission accomplished for the United States of America and its allies.
Soon enough, with the screaming C-17 now leaving the ground at the Hamid Karzai International Airport, the only thing I wanted to do was to grab a beer and yell a toast to our success in leaving this hell hole. Although we did our duty, most days were as calm as they could be. That is, if you included only a few heavy bombing moments in the distance every other day while on patrol. Our weapons cache was in overload, and we took off leaving way too much behind. Would not have been my call but decisions ramped up. Watching the Kabul parade from the air was not a vision of choice as we saw how they used our leftovers. But heading out and away we all thanked Lady Luck who saved our asses and for getting us to the end of this nightmare.
Halfway to landing at Joint Base Andrews, my mind raced like a confused thoroughbred on the track for the Kentucky Derby. It wouldn't stop even when my friend, Jake, picked my pocket for a pack of Marlboros that I had squirreled away. Didn't care. I shook a bit and fatigue hit me. Nodding off, my mind fast forwarded to getting off this big behemoth and making it back home. And that's where it had to end, the torment to myself and my best friend who I hoped was still my girl. If she was still there, then I had to be the bigger person and not the class idiot.
The landing happened on time, and we were shuttled to an area where the general was to say a few words. This was to happen quick as we knew more was to follow at a later time. Our junk remained on the aircraft as we set up in established protocol formation. The general strode in, and with extreme and sincere words, thanked each one of us for aiding in the conclusion of a moment in time for the United States of America and its allies.
Okay, you're welcome. Next chapter.
Now, I had a two-hour ride back home to contemplate life. The jeep kept up with my random slow pace. I was not in a hurry to face my biggest regrets. Even from abroad, I had not been in touch with Rianne, the fool that I am. My plate was a pile of shell shock. I hoped now, with time on my side, that I could make peace with myself first, then raise that same flag when I see my girl. My mind started to click, and in a more positive way, since confusion was my middle name for the longest time. I came up with an idea to surprise and win her back into my life.
I was about ten minutes out when I found out in a text that Rianne had left our apartment to stay with her girlfriend. The message from her was in real time. "You seem to have gotten over me and I don't feel that I make a difference to you anymore. I'll stop by to get my things tomorrow. Maybe we can talk."
Arriving to a darkened apartment, I parked out front. Heaving a sigh, I got out, fumbled for the key and walked into emptiness. She was definitely not there as I could feel it. The void and a blast of cold air hit me in the face.
I walked the rooms looking for signs that she was still there. Nope. Nothing. Everything too neat and tidy. It made me anxious. In the kitchen I sat down, and my feet started going a mile a minute. I grabbed my head and groaned. I need my life back. War was hell in a basket of shrapnel, but we got out of Afghanistan. That part I had to digest and find the blessings in life or else my destiny was going straight down the rat hole. I had to see the light.
And then I got an idea that maybe would change her opinion. I hoped it would be a gesture to hold on to us. This time would be different and not all about me, myself and I. That got old pretty damn quick when I thought back to the last shower of hot words that Rianne, unfortunately, became drenched in, courtesy of yours truly, the bumbling idiot.
My mind was now on overdrive.
I jumped into action, not wasting a moment of time. Game on. I had to get this done or else, since daybreak would be here. I could not stop, flipped the light switch and headed to the basement. Scrambling through remnants of past wood projects, I needed to find the one thing I remembered was there. It was beat up and needed some paint but sure enough the last look in a corner and there it was - a finely crafted wooden box. I had this forever as it held at one time an overload of nuts and bolts collected over the years. It's now going to see a new life. I sat at the work bench reminiscing over my life then and now. My mind was made up and I took the box, found sandpaper and got to work to make this thing see a new purpose. My idea was not something I'd quickly share with my guy friends, but I had to let that go. This was a gift from the heart to Rianne. Hinges were oiled and the wood prepped for a new life. I found the right earthy shade of paint and gave it a nice coat. While it dried, I had to make my mark with what I needed to put inside. Notes.
"You make me feel like a million bucks." "I'd do anything to see you smile. "You're my better half." "You are the cheese to my macaroni." "Thank you for putting up with me."
These were just a few I came up with. Sincere, but kind of tacky. Would it help and could she see my worth through it all and let me in her life again? This was make or break. She was coming over in one hour as it was now the next day.
The cover had a message that she needed to see first. The countdown had begun, and I worked to spruce up the place. For what reason, I don't know I just felt that anything might make a difference at this point. And then, I heard the door open.
Rianne stepped in, looked at me, and gently closed the door. I smiled with a lopsided grin. What do I say? Nothing, stupid. Don't mess this up. I reached on the counter, took the box and shrugged handing her my gift.
The message on the cover brought her to tears. She reached for me, and I didn't hesitate to wrap her up. I knew she forgave me.
"Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive."