11 August 2009

Here and Far.

A few days ago I got an e-mail. Shocking, right? But this e-mail wasn't from someone I knew. It wasn't Twitter spam, and it wasn't the latest from military.com. It was a smart, honest and sweet e-mail from one Molly Birnbaum. She wrote telling me of her experiences being an Army girlfriend, with her boyfriend Matt getting recalled to the Army and now serving in Afghanistan, the emotions, the fear, the not knowing. And she told me she and Matt had a blog they were writing together during the deployment.

Intrigued and curious, I immediately clicked over and started reading.

It was incredible. It was unique. I couldn't stop reading. Of course, Molly and Matt are both accomplished professional writers, so it is as beautifully and smartly written as one might hope. But her honesty and emotion, his descriptions of what it is like to be there and the people he has met.... how clearly and truthfully they tell their stories. It brought me to tears more than once. And the idea behind it? As Matt put it, "...chronicling our parallel experiences during this deployment, the blog was meant to examine what challenges couples who are separated by war endure." Compelling to say the least, and certainly something we can all relate to.

From Molly, on Independence Day:
"... The anger doesn’t come because Matt left. He had no choice. This situation is entirely out his control. It’s out of my control. Sometimes I think it’s even out of our government’s control. I don’t feel angry because I’m alone. I’ve been alone before and I like to think that I’m independent enough to handle it. Perhaps I’m angry because this war is happening at all. I’ve long felt opposed to the action in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I know myself, and I know I’m not the type to feel such consuming anger about something general, about something as large as a country or as a war. I can feel disappointed and depressed, yes. But I think I’m angry because I’m afraid. Someone I love is somewhere quite dangerous, and I’m very afraid.

... I like the idea that I can blame my anger, which feels both helpless and useless, on evolution. My brain just isn’t made to feel this terror for a danger that resides half a world away. I’m not programmed to think of such opaque realities, of such theoretical monstrosities.

... And I have to remember to be aware. I need to be aware of my anger, and of my fear. I don’t often know where these feelings come from, but I am prepared to look them in the eye and deal with their presence. I will take it one day at a time, and I will think about Matt, who doesn’t have the distraction of holidays and picnics to shield him from unwanted emotion. And I will think about my friends, who feed me cake and keep me busy and watch fireworks on the street in front of my apartment after the sun goes down."
From Matt, on Gardez:
"A sandstorm rages outside my makeshift office on a U.S. military outpost in eastern Afghanistan. Soldiers lean into the wind, their noses pressed into the crooks of their elbows, squinting as they scan for shelter from the stinging wind. The rocky desert mountains surrounding the camp are now all but obscured by the enveloping haze.Eventually, the dust will subside and tonight’s full moon will emerge, casting a glow over our base that in any other setting would seem peaceful. Here, however, the illumination offers would-be attackers an opportunity, and it can be deadly.

...Gardez is a bewitching place, hardened, like its people, to the elements. It is steeped in a history of violence that has repeled the most determined of marauding armies. Only a few miles to the east and south lies the border with Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an inconsequential demarcation from a bygone age of empire to which the tribal Pashtuns here pay no mind. Indeed, it is in the infinite caves and canyons of this sliver of Pakistan that the Taliban now launch daily attacks against us."
Incredible, right? I am excited to keep reading... excited to see what stories they will tell next, excited that they are willing to share these experiences, emotions and tales with us. I know this is an unabashed plug, something I haven't really done here before, but my goal here is to welcome Molly into the fold. To introduce this amazing woman to all of the other amazing women on know here. My intention is to help create opportunities for all of us to meet someone new, to share incredible experiences and to, most importantly, let one other know that we aren't in this alone.

I leave you with this, an excerpt from the latest post from Matt, because if this doesn't tug at your heart strings, bring tears to your eyes, and make you want to go read their words, nothing will...
"Where was home for me? I asked myself. Who do I rely on?

I had struggled with these questions many times over the last few years, but they now seemed so simple. The answer to both of course was Molly. Having moved myself five times in two years across three continents, Molly has been the only constant in my life. She has kept me grounded, connected somehow to a comforting if ethereal notion of home. Molly has been a rock.

And she is what matters most right now. Not the work, which will mean little in seven months. Not the ring, which can be replaced. What’s important is that I do better at letting Molly know how much she means to me, how I couldn’t do this without her, how everything reminds me of her. Even the most exotic oriental headwear from a far-off desert land."
So go meet Molly and Matt, you'll be glad you did. Here and Far.


The Army Wife said...

um ... tears indeed.

Bree said...

I talked to my husband about doing this same thing just this weekend. We semi-blogged together during the last deployment & figured we'd do it again. I think it's a great idea :o)

& what a fantastic blog share! Thanks for opening us up to a new couple & their experiences!

Molly and Matt said...

Oh, thank you so much for your wonderfully kind words. I'm so glad you're reading Matt's and my blog, and so glad that we can all write about our experiences, however hard, and then, I hope, feel less alone.


Kanani said...

Well, I'm not angry. Nope, gave into that a long long time ago, when I was fighting the insurance industries over corruption in paying us, as health care providers. Those were the days when I was writing nasty letters to Hospital CEO's and CFO's, about their nonpayment of tens of thousands of dollars.

I guess we all deal with it in different ways. Perhaps it's also my being so much older, getting into this late in the game, and having had the full marriage, the kids, the gamut of ups and downs...that angry doesn't figure where I am right now.
Malaise? Yes
Unfocused at times? Yes
Worried? Yes.
Skeptical about the politics and strategies at times? Yes
Grateful? Yes.
In love with life? Yes.
Feeling fortunate The Hubs loves his work and is helping others? Yes.
Angry....no. I gave that up a long time ago.

Meghan said...

I'm excited to read this! Thanks for sharing :)