Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Step Closer

Today we flew to Kuwait by way of Basra stopping at three bases before finally arriving at the transient base. We will be here for several days and, just as when I was stuck here for seven days in July, I won't know when I will leave here until I am on an airplane. Several times on the last trip, my name got called, I was on a manifest, I dragged my bags up to the meeting area, I was ready to board the bus then. . ."Sorry. Come back at 0500 hours."

But it's OK with me. We are on the way back to America. I am out of Iraq. I have lots of work to do, assuming I can do it using personal computer on a wireless hookup. Sometime in late January this year will end and I can go back to being a civilian again. I liked some of this year. I hated some of this year. The parts I hated probably helped me grow.

One thing it confirmed for me is how very difficult and very worthwhile it is to build community. It is very clear very fast that even people who think of politeness as optional, a sort of window dressing in life, rapidly find that politeness of some kind is necessary to live in close quarters. And they believe more strongly every day that if politeness is not natural it had better be enforced by someone.

An hour ago we moved eight of us moved into a 16-man tent, filling the all the available bunks. The lights are supposed to stay on 24/7, but if everyone agrees, the lights can go out until someone needs them. We may or may not have lights out, but if we do, it will be because 16 men agreed to shut off the lights at a given hour and turn them on again when needed.

It's very likely (though not certain) I will spend New Year's Eve and Day in a transient tent without any of the usual celebration. Certainly no alcohol. But it won't dampen my spirits. In a month or so, I'll be home.

SPQR and America

Senatus Populusque Romanus The Senate and People of Rome Some of the soldiers I served with in Iraq talked about getting an SPQR tat...