When you have spent the last year of your life living in a desert you start to take the little things in life for granted. I started to miss the pitter-patter of rain against my bedroom window or laying in a field staring at the clouds and naming the shapes. Each shape would have its own story to it. As a kid I always loved being able to go climb a tree or take a nap under one on a lazy summer afternoon.
There was just always a special, magical feeling I would get after waking up beneath a tree. Rubbing my eyes, stretching my arms way up over my head, stretching down through my torso all the way to my toes pointing them toward the river. I look up at the full, green leaves, with the sun shining down through them.
In the fall if you looked long enough you could swear that the leaves changed colors from red to yellow right in-front of your eyes.
Waking up beneath a tree brings a sense of calm and serenity to my life that was hard to obtain while at war. I could let my guard down and be one with nature. When you’re at war you rarely have downtime and can never let your guard down. You’re responsible for more than just your own safety when you’re over there. You’re protecting everyone back at home from the enemy. You have to have the backs of the guys in your platoon. If you lose a guy that’s on you whether it was your fault or not. The guilt and shame of losing a comrade in combat never goes away.
The only thing that would have made waking up under a tree better is if Charlie were here with me. I took this trip alone to gather my thoughts. I’m sure that Charlie would understand that.