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I am not a war correspondent.

Last night I hugged my friend goodbye in the night mist. A bat swooped overhead. He went home, slept a few hours and boarded a plane for Afghanistan. He’s been shot at there. He missed an explosive blowing up a car in his caravan by just a few hundred meters. He makes jokes about having PTSD. He’s excited to go sit in the snow with the troops in mountains far from the flat Midwest towns they were born in. He takes photographs of the soldiers. They are young and uncertain and tough and beautiful. I think he is too. I ask him questions, What is it like there? But I can’t understand the long quiet marches he walks, sleeping in shelled out homes for a few hours, smoking cigarettes just to pass the time, and then quick sudden blood and injury and tears.

Another friend I hugged hello in the garden a few hours earlier. He had come from Pakistan, where a military guard escorted him from his hotel room, drove him in an armored car and put him on a plane back to Delhi. The US government had gained intelligence that he was under threat of kidnapping and possible death. A Pakistan newspaper published my friend’s name. He’s a journalist, but the newspaper said he was a spy, a CIA op, a Blackwater guy, and possibly Mossad. His wife is pregnant with a baby girl. They haven’t decided on a name yet. Daniel Pearl’s wife was pregnant with a baby boy when he chose to go on that one last interview. My friend calls me whenever he’s bored in a taxi and makes jokes about himself until he gets to whatever destination he’s going to and then promptly hangs up on me. He wasn’t doing much joking last night. He misses Islamabad.

Another friend I haven’t seen since the night he got engaged to his blonde, petite wife. She is a journalist in Kabul and she wears blue burkhas to report on stories in the villages. Her fixer tells her she looks beautiful in the burkha because it matches her eyes. My friend was born in Afghanistan, before the war with the Russians, and left it as a teenager. When the Taliban fell, he jumped on the first flight to his home. He had plans. He had farmland to sow and companies to start and a government to participate in. Instead, he watched the country slip away from him. The farmlands of his neighbors grew poppy flowers instead of crops. The companies faltered and the government shook. He wants to take his wife and move to Turkey. He says there’s nothing left for him; he has no home.

I’m proud of my friends; I’m scared for my friends. I’m scared for this war that has been so messy and so poorly wrought. I sit on my balcony and parakeets tweet and not-so-far away, just a two-hour plane ride away, a stupid, ugly war is raging. And I’m scared.

One Comment

  1. Tron says:

    Those are beautiful pictures.