Ahhh, the sweet coconut smell of suntan lotion, a splash of cool water on hot skin and the relaxing, sleep-inducing warmth of the sun … is there anything better than being near the water in summertime? Especially when you add in the tart bite of a lime swimming in an icy corona.
But there’s none of that in deployed zone, especially the beverages of an alcoholic nature, so yesterday, when I found myself lying on a deck chair in my bathing suit, smelling like sunscreen and sweating under the hot, hot sun as I watched people swimming, holding onto my icy cold bottle of water, I could almost pretend I wasn’t really deployed. I felt a little like Cinderella must felt all dressed up at the ball - out of place and out of character. Could these happy, and very tan, embassy people tell I didn’t belong? The day glow skin surely gave me away.
This little fairytale setting at the U.S. embassy, is typically off-limits for us military folks, but my co-worker Rachel and I had signed up to participate in a swim-a-thon, a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, so we were granted access for the day.
We walked over to the embassy - as required - in our uniforms with our weapons and arrived, a sweaty, hot mess to be greeted by the sound of music pumping, people lounging on towels, and oh, that glorious, beautiful blue pool just waiting for us to jump in. Yes, we were there for a good cause – the WWP helps injured service members and their families – but the fact that we would have an opportunity to escape the heat in a pool didn’t hurt the cause either. The mission was to swim for 15 minutes and of course, raise money for WWP. Some people were competing for the number of laps they could swim in that time, but my goal was not that lofty; I aimed to just stay afloat, and I performed marvelously, if I don’t say so myself.
All in all there were about 170 swimmers involved and we raised almost $20,000 – not too bad for a day’s work. After finishing my swim, I stayed awhile to cheer on other swimmers, including several folks from our camp who were participating in the team competition. Oh, all right, it was to soak up the atmosphere a bit more too …. and to grab a hot dog (or two) from the grill.
But alas, this fun in the sun was not meant to last. As the sun started to sink, I again felt like Cinderella, trying to enjoy every leisurely minute until at last, I had to trade my swimsuit and flip flops for a uniform and combat boots. It was time to come back to reality, grab my weapon and begin the walk back to camp. No fairy godmother was going to rescue me but it felt amazing to be normal again, even for just a little while.
For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit their website at:
And, thanks to my friend (and co-worker) Chris Mobley for providing the outstanding photographs.