The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.


February 17, 2009

Name: Vampire 06
Posting date: 2/17/09
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Hometown: Folsom, CA
Milblog: Afghanistan Shrugged

De inimico non loquaris male, sed cogites.

She’s sitting there in the corner; we haven’t spoken in about 12 days. Green eyes leer at me each time I pass by; leering at me with a knowing that I’ll be coming back soon. Whether I want to or not. Jealous no more, a quiet confidence that no matter what in several days I’ll be back. A subliminal Siren’s Song calling me to return and smash myself against the razor sharp rocks of combat.

My rucksack.The green illum tape on the frame staring at me from the recess of my garage, still covered in Afghan dust.

Her ad hoc family is strung out halfway across the world, due purely to my actions. An overprotective if oft-described plump sister and hardheaded brother, my IBA* and ACH* are stored in a container in Kuwait. Waiting for my metamorphosis from normal human back to combat advisor.

The final piece of the functionally dysfunctional family -- a short, dark brother prone to loud outbursts -- my M4.  Secured in our arms rooms. The piece de resistance to the transition. Kafka would be dismayed that it happens over thousands of miles and hours of travel, more a slow Darwinian de-evolution than a sudden shocking change.

For right now she sits and waits in the garage, the garage door my own private Durand Line.* I’ll take stuff out of the ruck and bring it into the house, but not the ruck itself. As if my failure to bring it in ensures that where it’s been won’t contaminate my home. Having it here acknowledges that I must go back and ply my trade, but not at this moment.

Being home is wonderful, but it’s slowly waning to an end. The weather here in Northern California has been cold, wet and rainy, serving as a perverse amuse-bouche to my return.

Going from a land of peace and plenty back to Afghanistan; "un-peaceful and without" doesn’t seem to do it justice. So much to so little, in so quick a time.

Am I ready to go back?  No. I would never choose this, and yet I did!

But as I said before, it calls to you. Only those that have experienced the gentle, syrup-like call, know what I’m writing about. Leaving what you truly love for a scene of anarchy and violence doesn’t make sense in any rational way. However, I still go, pulled onward not just by duty but desire.

My friend Old Blue told me that Afghanistan would in some way be different upon my return. I don’t doubt that, and anticipate it with hope and dread. Things will have occurred in my absence, providing proof that no matter how important I believe my actions are, events still proceed without me.

But for now my ruck stays across our agreed-upon line of demarcation; her there and me here. The line is fragile, but what is on the far side does not belong here, and the reverse is also true.

The day is coming when I will step across the line and begin my evolutionary journey. Not today though.

It will wait, sitting, leering and waiting for my predestined return. What it does not know is that there is another line farther off on the horizon marking an end to its hold.

And each day brings it closer. 


IBA:    Interceptor Body Armor

ACH:   Advanced Combat Helmet

Durand Line: The 1,610-mile border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, named after Sir Mortimer                               Durand, foreign secretary of the British Indian government from 1884-1894.


Should that be "Durand Sieve"?

I love that the ruck sack is holding its spot in the garage and not allowed in the house. Thank you for sharing your leave with these posts. Home was changed when you came to it on leave. Afghanistan, because it is like a fault line where plates bash together, changes differently. Thank you for all of it, the posts, the leave, and the return. We all pray for the day that Afghanistan is left to its own people. And then, maybe then, the ruck will be stored in the attic to be found by children and grandchildren.

On the "Durand Line".

If they erased every line ever drawn on a map of the Middle East and Central Asia by British cartographers, you wouldn't never have ended up being deployed in Afghanistan, nor Iraq.

Good way to handle the stress. Naming stuff, making stuff obey you, setting limits for concepts by assigning meaning to the 'stuff'. . . all of it a #1 way of dealing.

Carry On!

I love your blog so much, and there are just some differences with others'. Hope there will be more wonderful things in your blog. Happy every day!

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