One thing is for certain: the weeks definitely go by a lot faster when I don't have a single moment of spare time due to staff training / summer camp.
Another thing is for certain: even though Zach and I have been together for three years (eek!) as of this month, and even though he's halfway across the world, that boy STILL says/does things that make me fall even more in love with him.
We got to talk on the phone briefly yesterday. It took us a while to establish a good connection & be able to hear each other, but once it was finally working, I heard him say, "I just got back from my first trip outside the wire."
For the most part, Zach's MOS (his specialized job in the Marine Corps) allows him to work inside an armory, which is safely(ish) located in the center of the base. However, he often has to go into the field to repair weapons, requiring him to go "outside the wire..." or "beyond the perimeter / outside the relatively safe confines of the base."
Eh, that's not exactly what I had wanted to hear once we finally got the phone lines to work. But what he said next (after telling me that everyone was safe, obviously) surprised me.
"At one point, there was this group of young kids---boys and girls---herding goats across the road..."
From there, he proceeded to tell stories about the Afghan children he encountered---one boy who was catching crickets, throwing them up in the air, and watching them fly away---another who picked up a rock and threw it at the stubborn goat who was straying away from the herd (it apparently worked!) Every story he told made me giggle, and that's all he mentioned concerning his first trip outside the wire---multiple stories about the children of Afghanistan. He didn't mention anything about fixing guns or weapons or any other dangerous situations, although they undoubtedly occurred. He just talked about the little Afghan children that have already stolen my heart. Zach loves kids just as much as I do, so I know they've stolen his, too.
One of my favorite quotes in the whole world is by Robert Fulghum:
"Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A beauty bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode high in the air — explode softly — and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth — boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn't go cheap either — not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peace and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination..."
Goodness, I love that visual. I love that quote. I love all of it. And I love that Zach knows me well enough to tell me all the stories about the Afghan children because he knows that I secretly want to give them all boxes of 64 crayons with the sharpener built right in :)
Except crayons don't thrive well in the 130-degree desert, so colored pencils will have to do.
Seriously though, a lot of people have been asking me what they can include in a package to send to Zach while he's deployed. He doesn't need a lot of things at the moment as far as basic life necessities go---although some books/magazines and candy goodies are always nice. If you are wanting to send Zach a package, you can always include a few boxes of pencils/colored pencils (pens aren't allowed and crayons will melt) and he can pass them out to the children in the town. I've posted his address before, but just in case, it's:
LCpl Jones Zacharie K
1st BN 9th MAR H&S Armory
FPO AE 09510-4095
I'm thinking the Crayola bomb has the potential to be the best secret weapon ever :)