I feared seeing him in fatigues as reality would be afforded penetration - right to my bones. I imagined my body responding with the tightening of throat that precedes welling tears or something of the like. It isn't that I'm expecting a breaking point, I hope that isn't the picture that I paint. It's that my heart speeds several steps in front of the rest of myself, and my head often lags behind. There are a hundred ideas that one can consciously ponder, but wrapping oneself around a thing, especially something that shakes you, is another concept all together. Until this morning, my Staff Sergeant was really more a man with "a job". Today, he is a soldier.
I don't know that I can convey this simple epiphany accurately...
In the unfamiliarity of such early morning hours, I watched with hesitation as he emerged from the steam-filled bathroom then moved to his closet. I remained in bed while he, in camouflaged pants, packed the day's gear and tied boots on his feet the color of sand. I observed this routine from beneath soft sheets that smell of his skin, in a dark room still masked by the quiet hush of a slothful awakening. His warm sheets, the slumberous peace of his room, I imagine these details as stark opposites to the brutality of war. In a half-state of consciousness, I began to piece him together - my throat never tightening, my eyes blinking away only remnants of sleep, and I lay there very calmly learning him, breathing in reality.
There is and probably always will be some thread of denial, some half truths I'll tell myself to avoid maddening worry, but I feel that I'm embracing the mountains of new discoveries quite well. It's something different, this other lifestyle, but my interest is piqued and the subject, worthwhile. Though he marches toward a purpose I cannot comprehend, he is still more just a man than anything, and my heart becomes a little more his with every conquered step.