Freedom of wine

wine-montage

“My objection to war was not that I had to kill somebody

or be killed senselessly, that hardly mattered.

What I objected to was to be denied the right to sit in a small room and starve

and drink cheap wine and go crazy in my own way and at my own leisure.”

― Charles BukowskiSouth of No North

Soldiers train to go to war. We mentally prepare ourselves to die. We don’t want to die of course, but we prepare for it. We learn to shoot weapons to defend ourselves. We create wills just in case. We tell our families we love them. And then, we go off to a foreign country and hope things will be alright.

We adjust to the lack of freedom and the demanding work schedules. We cope with the dangers of intermittent rockets or the unknown dangers on a patrol. We learn to deal with the nonstop worry of the sky falling, because sometimes it literally is.

Don’t get me wrong, I never had it that bad. I was what they call a FOBBIT, a Soldier who pretty much stayed on the Forward Operating Base. I was a unique FOBBIT though. I had opportunities to venture off bases from time to time. I went on some patrols with special forces troops, I met village elders, and I experienced a convoy here and there. But, I was never on the front line, in a fire-fight, or face to face with a known enemy. (So I had it relatively easy compared to our hardcore troops. So I am not here to pretend I was more than I was. I am merely sharing my perspective on my experiences to those who may not understand deployments.)

However, as a Soldier who was deployed to three different countries, I saw and experienced some interesting things. And through those years, I realized just how grateful I should be.

I’ve had to sleep in overcrowded tents, a bug infested plywood hut and an cold HUMVEE. I’ve heard the whistle of a rocket overhead and hit the ground not knowing where it would land. I heard gunfire fill the air and not know which way it was going. I’ve walked on a patrol and got a bit uncertain with some locals around us. I’ve seen the dismal conditions people have had to endure. So, there were times of heightened concern, general discomfort, humble gratitude.

Then…there were times where there was nothing. Sometimes days, weeks and months of nothing. Nothing but work and more work. The same old work and the same old clothes and the same old food in the same old places. Being stuck in a small compound is enough to stress you out.

You get stir crazy in a way. You want to drive your own car, wear your own cloths, make your own schedule. But you can’t. You are stuck there. You feel like a prisoner who has to defend freedom, yet ironically, you have very little of your own.

Your life back home continues. Yet, it continues without you. And that is what nags at you. You miss your freedom. You miss your life. The freedom you had taken for granted is now gone. Your freedom is on hold while you try to regain it for someone else.

It is like that saying, you don’t know what you have until its gone. That is true. Because once you are deployed, you realize, you miss the little things. You miss cooking. You long to wear colors. You want to enjoy a glass of wine. But you can’t. You are a Soldier every day, every second and every moment.

This lack of control over the small luxuries hangs over you. Fore example, back home, you may only drink a handful of times a year. Yet, when you are deployed and not “allowed” to drink, you miss it more. You want it more because that freedom was taken from you.

I longed for a drink when I was deployed. It wasn’t that I really drank that much at home, but I enjoyed the option of having one when I desired. I wished I could kick up my heels and enjoy a glass of wine after a hard day. But I couldn’t. So when I read the Charles Bukowski quote above, I laughed. Yes, I definitely missed my right to sit around and drink cheap wine. I missed the option of making myself view the world with a bit of a colorful blur, if even for one night.

So the above photomontage is a blend of some of the items currently on my wine rack. Sometimes, I don’t touch it for months. Other times, I may have a glass or two in one day. The great thing though is, I can now do it at my leisure. And that freedom is something I will always appreciate.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Sally D’s Phoneography Challenge ~ Photomontage.

To read more about Charles Bukowski, click here.

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19 thoughts on “Freedom of wine

  1. seems to be a Bukowski weekend for me…he has a knack for putting things into a certain perspective.

    as i’ve said before, i have no idea what those who have been in the midst of armed conflict go through, what trials and tribulations it puts the psyche and heart through. your words are a fresh reminder of the not only traumatic moments, but the tedious ones as well, that paints such an experience. boredom and cabin fever can be just as maddening in their own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that comment. Yes, boredom and cabin fever can create a bunch of issues for sure. I would definitely prefer that over the trauma any day. But it does frame an appreciation for things we might otherwise ignore. So, for that, I am thankful. Those times also made me feel like I was contributing to society, even just for a few.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As someone who has never experienced armed conflict in any way, shape, or form, this was an interesting post. The line that stuck out the most for me was “You feel like a prisoner who has to defend freedom, yet ironically, you have very little of your own”.

    A great reminder that war is not glamorous in any way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment. It can feel like a prison indeed. Every base is different and depends on the threat of course. However, each have boarders of some sorts to keep the Nato forces safe. And clearly, we don’t just wander about on our own. So you are stuck in a compound until you travel out for a mission. So it can very much feel like a prison. Or at least I imagine since I fortunately have not been to prison.

      It is certainly not glamorous. There are fences and rocks and dust, and all things drab. They try to give us fun between work: special food nights, occasional USO concerts, gyms and library tents… So, it is really what you make of it. Regardless though, you go through moments where you really just miss your life: kids, spouse, car, bed, clothes…. You feel like your in some other dimension and worry that life back home will forget you.

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        • It truly is. I have deployed three times. I missed over three years of my kids lives. It was so hard to see all the changes in them when I returned and know I could never get that time back. Ever. So I had to remember the time there and hope it made a difference. I at least know family members and Soldiers were happy that I documented their time there well. So, at least I made some difference to those people. And now, my kids are older and they understand, but when they were little, mom was just gone. And that hurt.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Michelle, thanks very much for this post and the perspectives. I’ve gleaned many of these from things I’ve read, fictional and non, but you put them together well and precisely. I can only imagine to a small extent the difficulties of adapting back to “normal” life after being deployed in a war zone and the difficulties of the families of those returning. We’re so thankful for their service and sacrifices.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a hard adjustment going and returning for sure. I found listening to people complain angered me a lot my first few months back. It was hard hearing small issues after seeing and living a different reality. But it wears off to an extent in time, and then I found myself complaining about trivial things too, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, it wasn’t too hard. It was just something you missed because you couldn’t have it. Losing those luxuries temporarily certainly made me and my friends more aware and appreciative of what we DID have when we got back home though. When I want to complain, I take a breath and remember…I am still a lot more fortunate than so many. That usually makes me remain quiet.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, that is a sweet comment. It’s nice to be home that is for sure. Yet, I did always enjoy my deployments from a work perspective. They made me feel like I was really accomplishing something that mattered, which made the fact of putting my life on hold tolerable.

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  4. Pingback: Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Challenger’s Choice-Photomontage (Banana Leaves) | Lens and Pens by Sally

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