It was morning. After my brief nap on the asphalt we returned to the base where we had waited for a week to go in. We were still on maximum alert so our first priority was to check and prepare all our equipment. We cleaned our guns, refilled our magazines, and replaced all other supplies depleted during the war.

Then we went to the showers. Nice, hot, fresh, steaming showers. It was even more wonderful than the asphalt. But there was a problem. Gaza was dirty. Very, very dirty. And not all of the houses we stayed in were Hamas mansions. I was covered with fleas and possibly lice. To me there was only one reasonable solution. I shaved all my hair.

Finally all equipment was more or less prepared and I was clean. They gave us our cell phones back and I checked my voice mail.

Cocoa Puff, the girl that had been shaking in the bomb shelter, had left me eleven messages, almost crying in each one. I was really surprised. We weren't dating in the slightest, and I did not expect that kind of response...

After listening to all the messages I began calling my friends. I was exhausted but I tried carrying on a conversation.

They asked me how it was.

"Well..." I answered. "It was a war."

I didn't have anything to say. I honestly hadn't really thought about it. I had been in an automatic mode governed by instinct for so long I hadn't actually thought about anything; really I began thinking about it. I began to remember.

Did I really just survive all that? Did I really just do all that?

Eventually I got off the phone and found a bed. It was such a sweet sleep.

The next morning I was awakened by my lieutenant. The previous day I had tried to make a deal with him to go home early. He told me he would have an answer for me in the morning. He woke me up with his answer.

"Yes, Yared. Go home."

I made a few touch-ups to my equipment. Then I switched to my dress uniform, grabbed my bag, and made my way home. I climbed onto the bus. Sitting on the bus it occurred to me that my kippah was missing. It had been borrowed for morning prayer and I had never gotten it back. I reached into my pocket, hoping to find my spare. It wasn't there, but I smiled at what I found.

It was my purple bandana.

Well, I needed something on my head. So I put the bandana back on my head. For a brief moment it felt like the whole world was laughing at me. There I was, back in the real world, with a purple bandana tied pirate-style on my head. But then I realized that I just didn't really care. I had just fought a war, and won.

As far as I was concerned the world could laugh at me all they wanted.

On the bus I thought about the blog. Using my internet phone I looked up the site, curious to see if anything was going on with it.

I was in shock.

For one entry alone there were over 62 comments. I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even done anything yet. Had that many people actually been reading my rambling and actually commented on it? I hoped that as many other soldiers as possible had also read the comments. I hoped that they also saw how many people prayed for us and supported us.

It was evening and I arrived at my kibbutz, still wearing the bandana. I saw my friend that had given it to me. But now she was wearing a nice, dark green bandana.

"What? Wait a minute! You mean to tell me that I have been running all over the Gaza Strip with this wimpy, purple bandana on my head, and this whole time you have been sitting here with a dark green one?!"

She laughed and offered to trade.

"No," I replied thoughtfully. "The wimpy, purple one is actually starting to grow on me."

And then I saw Cocoa Puff. She came over to my apartment and immediately went into my cupboard, digging through my supply of alcohol and chocolate. We opened a bottle of red wine and she helped herself to my precious supply of Reese's Peanut Cups that I had imported from the US. (They are really hard to find here in Israel.) We sat on my bed and talked about the war for a while.

Later I hopped on a bus to Jerusalem to meet up with my friends for a coffee in the city center. It was so good and yet so strange to see them all again. Some of them had even gotten married in the time that I was gone. I had wanted to attend the wedding but obviously had been unable.

I sat in the warm coffee shop and drank a gigantic, delicious iced mocha. Then my friends suddenly broke out into song and presented me with a small chocolate cake complete with a single candle on top.

"Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday..."

The war had started on December 27th, my birthday. I had forgotten. My friends hadn't.

I smiled with contentment at my friends, my little cake, my iced mocha. For one night, if only one night, I could forget about guns, hand-grenades, war, killing, and terrorists. For at least one night I could enjoy myself as a twenty-four year old.

Yes, it was good to be alive.

I wish I could end the story there but unfortunately I cannot. Hamas has already violated the cease-fire many times. My apartment is located near a large air force base. From where I am typing the final chapter of my blog I can see the F-15s rise into the sky. The bottoms of the jets are heavily loaded with bombs and missiles. I am watching them kick on the afterburners and scream towards Gaza. In a few hours I will check the news and read about the air strikes as well as the rockets, missiles, and mortars landing on Israeli cities from Hamas. I am almost waiting for Captain America to call me on my cell phone and cancel my vacation.

This is the end of The Front Line Blog... for now. Perhaps one day in the near future I will be forced to write a sequel. But sequels are never as good as the original.