Sorry, no download below the fold or punchline comin’.
No way to set this up that isn’t either incredibly flippant or way too sentimental for me.
My stepson’s going to Iraq in a matter of weeks.
He just left our house from his (way too short) summer break after wrapping up college and is headed to Fort Dix, New Jersey for some final training before being deployed in country.
I’ve been tightlipped about this for a number of reasons, not the least of it’s been my own inability to process all this beyond YOU STUPID FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!
Kids will do the god-damndest things. We used to do shit like vandalize things or go see the Butthole Surfers tripping on acid, not join the military during a time of war!
But E has always been that way. Always been independent and headstrong.
The day we started bombing Iraq, E shaved his head at six in the morning, skipped school (he was in High School, then) and went and sat in the streets of Portland, blocking traffic with several Anarchist Black Bloc types. He got seriously into politics, volunteering for our local Democratic Party office. He studied foreign policy in college and when his funding dried up (fuck you, George!) , instead of reaching out to us, he started talking to recruiters. He wanted to go to Afghanistan. He felt it was the just cause and that that country needed help. He was allowed to join a unit that did Civil Affairs and hoped to work in rebuilding the countries that we were and are blowing the shit out of.
But he was not at all surprised that his unit was reassigned to Iraq. Now he’s going. I still can’t believe it. His mom and he spent a long weekend together, driving around the area of his base. He didn’t have a blanket with his cot in the barracks, so he took one out of our van – an old kid’s Disney Pocahontas comforter. E says he’s taking it to Iraq with him.
I know the odds of him coming back in one piece are good; He’s in a non-combat unit in a province that doesn’t see much action but is in bad need of some infrastructural repair. I do worry for his mental state. He’s a sensitive kid with a huge heart. I hope he finds a way to deal with the darkness and horribleness of what that country’s going through and what war also does to the so-called good guys.
As I said, I’ve been reluctant to talk about it up to now. Few people but those closest to me know about this. Also, most other people’s discussion of it upsets my wife, who is dealing with it in a most incredible way. She’s sure an inspiration to me. My wife’s a good example of someone who can let hope carry her, rather than endlessly worry, although she’s not without worry over this.
I also didn’t want to have to hear people’s worry and negativity gears grind over this on our behalf. It’s enough to deal with it ourselves, but there’s something in people where they will reel out all the recent horror stories about Iraq and the war and it would only amplify my own worry.
So now, we’re going to be one of those families that are on edge until we get that email, that MySpace bulletin or that cellphone call from our kid.
I never thought we’d be one of those families.
Not in a million years.