Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Gate and Me

Ok, so it's not really Baghdad per se where I'm located, but you get the idea. By most standards this is a suburb, and that's descriptive enough for me. Our post gets hundreds of workers from the local population commuting to work among us daily. I work at the entry point, the passage point from outside of post to inside where it's "safe."

The gate, the gate the gate... took rocket rounds two days ago. We were simply lucky that of the three rounds only one detonated and that no one was injured. I found myself lying on the floor of the tin building located at the gate, body armor, helmet, pistol... and exchanging jokes with the others (all of us were on the floor) about wondering how much good our weapons would do against an enemy who was firing from miles away! I found myself wondering what I would do if we got hit -- who would be last on my mind -- what regrets I had -- and whether I would have the constitution to be a leader and take care of the people who might be hurt, bleeding, and alone in those critical moments.

I write all of this with an awareness and respect for the myriads of others who actually conduct missions "outside the wire" on a daily basis. I don't patrol; I don't hunt for bombs; I don't shoot people... but the "bad guys" mixed in with the "good guys" all coming to work in our lovely safe compound lay eyes on me every day. And I get that feeling that I'm a stationary target, hands tied, waiting for something to happen.

I lost the first version of this post. New at blogging, what can I say? There will be more positive things to say over future posts. There will be celebrations and reports of BBQs and "socials" and spending time with new people I've met. But the gate happens every day, seven days a week, and it's there, emitting white noise in the background of every other story I tell.

The first several posts I put out will be back-dated posts of electronic journals from January onward, when I was still in the states for mobilization training. I invite you to share this experience with me; comment; be one of the ones carrying the torch back home; I need the backstop.


At 4/05/2005 11:40 AM, Blogger Judy said...

Take care of you, as well as the gate. Your blog will make Iraq situation more real to me. I pray and think of you and your colleagues. Your service and sacrifice will not be in vain.

At 4/10/2005 2:34 PM, Blogger Mary Godwin said...

The phrase "white noise in the background" is the one that stands out to me from both of your posts ... the presence of the gate, the shadow of the gate behind all those moments being pushed into a "normal" space in an effort to find (make) pieces of home more real for the passing of days. The gate is always in the background for me, too, Tommi. I want you to have every minute of friendship you can find in that place, every "break" a place so far from home can afford, but so long as the gate doesn't go away for you, it will be there for me. You are not alone. I am with you ... always with love. -mom


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