War is like a fling
with whom you do not intend to spend the rest of your life. You fuck twice a day for a month and then one day, you realize that the thrill is gone
. You go through the motions for the rest of your time together, gradually tiring of each other until one day, one of you has the stones to call it quits, or neither of you do, so you just stop returning the halfhearted calls.
I'm tired of this war.
I'm tired of living the cliché, I'm sure as hell tired of the chow hall. I'm tired of the sound of rotors thump-thump-thumping around just above the soupy winter clouds. I'm tired of moon dust in my boots and these goddamned green wool blankets. I'm tired of being tired.
I'm tired of this war the same way you're tired of your live-in girlfriend. That she's always broke around rent time, but never during girl's night, doesn't bother you nearly as much as the way she leaves the shower curtain open when she's done, and the long hair that gets tangled up in your fingers every time you clean the lint trap.
I find that I care less and less about these people who I am here to save from themselves. I care less and less about the grandiose act of raising a precivilization out of its own filth to become a free and functioning nation. The wonderful intentions are lost in the chaos of the day, where willful ignorance is more powerful than anything that ISAF can muster. I'm too busy rolling lint and straightening shower curtains to care about the rent.
I'm tired of being shot at.
The first time I got mortared was terrifying beyond my ability to express. I find it very likely that I will never be so scared again in my life. It was like the first tumble with a new girl - terribly exciting! A jump into the unknown, something that you've somehow not planned for despite the nervous anticipation. The animal exhilaration tapers off after a few repetitions into a hungry interest - what new tricks do you have to show each other? - and then becomes a routine pleasure, a regular and casual indulgence. And so it is with being shot at - its frequency is marked only by the infrequent dry spells.
I'm tired of killing people who are happy to die.
The first time I killed someone, it was the cause for a lot of introspection. But, long ago I came to a very definite conclusion: There are people in the world whose deaths benefit the lives of everyone else in a way that the choices they will make, if left alive, never can. Also, I believed (and still do) that the people I am responsible for killing in the course of my duties fall firmly into that group.
Some unrecounted time later, I realized that there was no longer any introspection when I caused a human being to cease to be. I find that this does not worry me, nor is there any recursive worry regarding the lack.
Killing a man is like asking a girl to dance - it's tough the first few times, but eventually you realize that, to get anywhere at all, you're going to have to do it. So, you accustom yourself to the trepidation and sweaty palms, and eventually you move beyond them. And you may just find that you're very good at dancing.
I'm tired of crossing names out of my addressbook.
People die, in war. And the concerns of most of those involved in the brutish business lie with making sure that the right people die. The enemy. Sometimes, the wrong pieces get taken off the board, and you learn to deal with that in your own way. Nothing could make me happier than to know that there is a Valhalla in which my brothers dwell eternal - nothing except to have them breathing again.
Losing a friend is like not getting a call back after a really great first date. What you had, for while you had it, was so good it makes you giddy, and some part of you is left wondering to your dying day what might have been. You'll drudge the memory up during bad times, and it makes them worse. The recollection sometimes surprises you during the good times to knock a few teeth out of your smile. It waits like a buzzard on the roof. For reasons you will never know, the door to that alternate universe is closed to you forever, that universe where she calls you a few days later, a smile in her voice, and tells you about this great little Armenian restaurant. That universe where your brother keeps his side plates in and makes it home to fill the barstool next to you at the VFW.
I'm tired of wandering around out here, and I don't know how to go home.
I've tried before, going home. But I always jump at the chance to leave again, because going back to the World is like dating again after a long, nasty codependency. You can't decide whether you're glad it's over, or whether the prospect of being alone terrifies you enough to want to stay. You fuck up royally the first few attempts with someone new, because no matter what you've told your friends, or yourself, you aren't ready to leave her behind you just yet, and there are memories scattered everywhere you look that draw you back in. And she keeps calling you. And the sex is so good, and you can afford to live in a nicer place if you're together, and she has great drugs, and you don't have to go to all the hassle and uncertainty and fear and newness of getting on with your life.
The best advice you've heard since the breakup is that it would be best if you left town and started fresh - and here the syllogism finally fails me.
We are nothing more than our choices and our memories. How do you leave those behind and start fresh?
I'm tired of trying to explain.
It's like trying to explain true love to someone who doesn't believe in it. Those who don't believe have never felt it, and are left grasping at the prose of others or doubting like true cynics. They've read the books, or seen the movies, or, these days, played the video games, but the knowledge or pretense of it is secondhand at best.