Sunday, October 22, 2006

Morning In Balad

I'm in Iraq.

This is the first thought that greets me when I wake every morning.
Surprisingly, I'm content in the knowledge.

Stepping out of my trailer for a smoke this Sunday morning, I find myself
greeted with a cool breeze and the sounds of finches bickering. The sun has
yet to rise over the Jersey barriers, but the tops of the second-tier
trailers are already bathed in auburn light. To the north, a flight of
pigeons disembarks from a towering ficus. Their wingbeats compete with the
distant thumping of attack helicopters.

Our smoking area is a wooden gazebo, covered with brown camouflage netting,
halfway between our pod of trailers and the company HQ. To the east, past a
concrete guard towers, I can see The Wire, and beyond that a verdant expanse
of Iraqi farmland. Clumps of date palm break the flat expanse of horizon
periodically, and but for those distinctive trees I can almost imagine
myself back home, wandering around my parents' backyard. I light up and
take a drag.

I take a seat, exhaling and listening to the breeze through the palm fronds.
I like mornings. This is the one day a week when I'm not required to wake
up before six. It's 630 now, and from the looks of things I'm the only one
awake. I'm a bit hungry, but I have nobody to serve as a battle buddy for
chow. I shrug to myself. So be it, I think. I take another drag and sigh.

Right now, the leaves are turning, and the first snows are falling on Lake
Superior. The trees won't have fully lost their leaves, and so the woods of
the Hiawatha forest will be still and crisp with the amber tang of fall. I
miss the way the cold breeze chafes my ears, even the way it makes my nose
run a little bit. I miss walking about by myself through downtown Port
Austin with a cup of black coffee. I dreamt again of snowstorms and muffled
footsteps last night, and now once again, here I am, miles from home. I can
hear a flight of F-16's roaring off in the distance.

Am I homesick? A little, yes. But I'm happy. I have a mission coming up in
the near future, and I haven't talked to my wife in six days, but for now
I'm sitting, listening to the finches, enjoying my smoke and the rare
pleasure of being alone on an October morning. Such a pleasure is rare, I
have found, within the cramped and dysfunctional family of the military.

Six days more, and the tally will be one month down. Eleven to go. Those
figures are as good as any I can come up with.

I am, for what it's worth, content.

Add a Yahoo! contact to Windows Live Messenger for a chance to win a free


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Milo:
Content is so great...and you are now passing on your content to me. Think of how powerful you are in your contentment... to feel content where you are right now. That is power and the sign of a leader; when you can feel and communicate being content....despite all the obstacles ...this means you can overcome any situation or circumstance and find yourself...your contentment...peaceful place.
I hope you can talk to your wife soon; and what can we do for you and your team? Is there anything we can send...who would I get the details from???
Sending you my best. You are doing an amazing job....I always hear your writing from a spiritual, divine place.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I'm glad you made it just so you can get the countdown going...great descriptions, I'm looking forward to reading your accounts from the sandbox.

Be safe.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Cheryl Friend said...

We had snow flurries here today, in the "State down South". I imagine the "State up North" did also. Very calm and peaceful as I got my daughter out of the truck to take her into daycare. She had to tell me about making Snow Angels. The light in her eyes and the smile on her face as she described it made my heart swell. May the Angels watch over you, stay safe.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Softball Slut said...

glad to hear you are surviving and coping

7:21 PM  
Anonymous mik said...

Living in the "now." Isn't that what we all strive for? Sounds like you are there.

Your descriptions continue to transport me there, with you. Very interesting...Thank you for sharing.

Write on and come home safely.

9:22 PM  
Blogger essa said...

So, where are you? Can you say? My husband will be home in 3 weeks. My heart goes out to your wife. And, well, for me... the year was easier if we only spoke once a week. It made the weeks fly by, instead of waiting for everyday... I waited for every week. Take care, Milo.

7:23 PM  
Blogger curtcon said...


You make a war torn country almost sound like peace. May peace follow you and all your comrades through this tour and beyond. Godspeed.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We miss you Milo. And send you our best, highest goals of safety, love and compassion for you and your team and anything else you need right now ;-)...and I know way more people read your blog, than those that comment; they just don't know what to say.

4:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home