One of Chelsea’s friends enlisted over a year ago. He stayed a night at our house while on a short leave. One of his jobs is searching through wreckage (read: dead bodies) for explosive devices. His arms and chest bear the names of friends killed in the war. I don’t know him well, but his family didn’t make time to see him while he was in town for a few days – as unfathomable to me as his experience in Iraq – so something is terribly wrong there. He had dinner with us, pepper and bean soup, not chatty, but not oddly quiet either and still quick to smile, despite the tattoos wrapping across his shoulder, that shoulder still the skinny knob of boyhood. He did not complain about his decision. He did not express enthusiasm over his imminent return.
I wanted to keep him, make him safe, couldn’t stand the thought of letting him go back to the danger and horror a bunch of greedy old men tossed him into. It’s so wrong, so clearly wrong, and yet I remained at a loss, rooted by powerless as he said goodbye. Chelsea and a friend drove him to Oakland to see him off, back to Iraq via Kuwait. What is there to do? Pray? Light candles, cross fingers? Stupid, stupid war. Marching didn’t work and we’re not willing to give up driving, shopping, make the real sacrifices that would say, “STOP, NOW.” Nobody wants to hear more speeches from the soapbox, so I rarely bother climbing up, but I’m bubbling over this time.
We’ll go to the polls, but rarely vote with our dollars. What if everyone stopped buying until the last soldiers were home? Would that force the players’ hands? I’m as guilty as anyone, so easily distracted, so programmed to seek out fun, so overwhelmed by information that the shock and horror no longer sticks, but slides away from my Teflonized mind.
Except I have a face on my mind – and in my heart. And again, what to do?
I’m waiting for Chelsea to arrive home, grateful for the moonlight and clear skies making the road a safer place, cranky they’re traveling so late, worried because that’s what I do.