Iraq can get hot.
I’m not talking about just hot, but hot!
I’m talking about life-changing, turn a straight man gay, that tingling sensation is the unraveling of the space-time continuum, the dust is searing the flesh from my bones, sort of hot.
In many parts of the world, wind is welcome. “Ah! A breeze,” is usually a term of delight. Usually, but not in Iraq.
When the winds blow, always from the north west, the air actually feels warmer, like a big hair dryer blowing in your face. Your lips crack and the dryness works its way down your throat, dehydrating you before you notice you’re even sweating.
On my first few warm days, my body started to panic after breathing in the super-heated wind, like the reflex to lift one’s self out of a bath of too-hot water. Except, when you’re living in it, you can’t just step out of the tub, and it takes a few minutes to remind yourself that you’re not going to burst into flames.
Fabric from the scant flags crackle and snap in the wind — really, the only sound other than the wind itself. There is little life out, human or otherwise.
Reports of the temperatures vary, depending on how trumped up you want to make your story. Forecasts call for the 110s, while our on-site thermometers list 105-ish in the shade and 135 in the sun. We’re only into July, so the warm-up trend will continue for the next few weeks, at least. The only saving grace is that it’s gradual.
It was in this half-baked stroll, cursing dust and wind alike, that I had a wave of euphoria come over me. At first I thought it might be heat stroke, but realized it was a realization.
Here I was, halfway around the world, dirty, hot, shot-at, causes to gripe abound; but I remembered an old verse from the Bible that said “a man can do nothing but eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.”
Find satisfaction. It’s not automatic, apparently. For me, much of life in the Army seems to have been one stop to the next, all in various stages of “suckage.” Was that all I was going to get out of this experience?
Sure I had a thousand stories on how people can do stupid things, and I get a laugh out of ’em, but is that all I want to get out of the military — reasons why it was stupid?
Even in war, amid the crap, people can grow. An emotional wound, news — good or bad, can lead to strength, if I would just take the time to get up and look around.
It’s a lot like exercise, I suppose. Either watch the thin people and bitch, or start running and stop eating crap all day. It takes time and a concerted effort.
There, God gave me a kick in the butt; now, the same to you! Move out, peeps!