I’m drenched with sweat; I’m panting like a dog, and with each breath my mouth dries out even more. My eyes are stinging, either from the sunlight or the sweat dripping down my brow. I look down at my hands, bleeding and worn down two or three layers raw. Looking further, my shirt is dotted in red and my shorts and shoes have taken on the color of the dust that surrounds this place. I’ve survived my first week of Crossfit, and I step out of the box and back into Afghanistan.
The experience of being deployed so far has been something like a dream. Even trying to remember what I did yesterday seems so hard and far away, yet certain moments seem so vivid; waking up in a plane doused in red light and seeing flares flash by outside. Lately it feels like entire days pass by too quickly to finish work, yet too slowly to bridge the gap between where I am and that plane heading home. Regardless of what I may have thought before I arrived, being here in this place has been nothing like I imagined.