Trying to pass the time by napping isn't working. I crawl out of my bunk and stretch. The wheels in my mind are cranking so hard it hurts, and I just want to release tension. It's 4 a.m. in the morning. I pull on my crinkly crackly PT gear and head out for a run. Despite the fact the base is pulsing with activity 24 hours a day, it is usually dead around this time. I am alone. Technically, I am breaking many rules by running alone around the base, we are supposed to have a wingman between certain hours. One, so we don't get hit by a mortar and end up in a ditch and no one knows where we are. Two, so the Army doesn't eat us. I don't care. Tonight I am taking my chances. I need this. The occasional Stryker, Bradley, MRAP, Humvee clanks past in the otherwise desolate silence.
The flight line lights up miles of open space behind me, coloring everything a dim fluorescent ashen in front of me, enough so I can avoid the gaping potholes and random electrical wire. My shadow trods steadily in front of me, bobbing against a foreboding barbed wire fence. I am quietly pattering away on the dusty pavement. I feel like I am floating. I feel tension melting. I am alone. I am a rock. I am an island.