Today we bid farewell to Camp Hit forever. Our whole company has moved to the dam at Haditha for the last couple of weeks of combat operations for our deployment.
Lately I have been experiencing a mild funk, but today was warmer than it's been for some time, and seeing Hit diminish behind me for good lifted my spirits considerably.
And for the first time in my experience, the reservoir is placid.
I've gotten way behind in writing people back, but every time I sit down to try to get it done, I find no inspiration, nothing substantial to say, and trying just makes me feel more homesick.
Down two decks in our berthing, conditions are: crowded, more so than usual, having had to cram our entire company into a space usually reserved for just our platoon.
A few people are trying to sleep, but there's a crowd gathered around the television, where they're watching a DVD of some shitty hidden camera show, laughing cacophonously at predictable intervals.
I don't notice the deep rumbling from the dam around me until I put in my earbuds. Tonight it is vaguely threatening.
This is my first chance to crack open my new McSweeney's and I immediately fall deep into it, despite everything around me.
I don't crawl back out until several stories later, when I realize I have to pee very badly. I grab a buddy, my thermos, and cigarettes, and we head up the dark stairs.
It seems half the company is topside smoking and chatting when we get there, but I pee, smoke, down a cup of coffee and hurry back downstairs, eager to delve back into the volume.
I read until I have to pee again, and my usual smoking buddy is watching a movie, so I climb upstairs alone to find the top of the dam deserted.
The night is warm and still and the moonlight illuminates a light fog that sits atop the calm water. I light up, and lean against the concrete railing, and from here the dam's vibrations seem not menacing or angry, but reassuring as they drown out the now ever-present ringing in my left ear. I smoke, and watch the light gray silhouette of some sleepless bird glide over the surface of the water below and I feel at peace, something I haven't felt in a long time.
I hope tonight's peacefulness is an omen, a harbinger for the mission tonight, and for the couple of weeks of combat ops remaining for us. So far we've had no serious casualties in our company despite countless mines, IEDs, rocket attacks, mortar fire, and several serious engagements. But, though our deployment is winding down, our ops tempo seems only to be stepping up, and I'm almost terrified that someone's going to catch a stray round, now, so near to the end.
For various and complicated reasons, I've volunteered to stay back on rear party, so I may be in Kuwait as late as May. But with the end of combat ops approaching, it's become impossible not to think about going home.
Except it seems I no longer have any precise idea of where home is. My crap is scattered around the country, in storage somewhere in California, in my parents' house in Atlanta, and spread among my friends' houses in Seattle.
I find I can't really attach the sentiment of home to any one location or building. The last house I called home, the weirdly idiosyncratic one by Green Lake is now home to strangers. My parents' new house in Atlanta, while comfortable, has never felt like my own.
I always used to say I'd grow up to be a bum, and though I've never been lacking for a place to sleep, I find myself now in a queer but profound state of homelessness.
Of late, though, I've been slowly realizing that maybe that isn't really so bad. In fact, maybe it's good. Perhaps to settle is to stagnate, perhaps I prefer to be forever dynamic, a self-accelerating perpetual motion machine. Maybe I'll just keep moving until the day I die, and then the matter that makes me up will keep on without me, become riverboats and rockets, stormclouds and jetstreams.
My epiphany tonight is that if I can find peace here, I can find it anywhere.