30 September, 2010
War is... well, it just is.
Dublin in the pre-dawn glow of late September is a beautiful sight, especially from a gentle angle of descent. I'd rather see it looming large and fast than waning in the distance as I wing my way to some other place. Ireland in any rear view mirror is a sad and sorry thing.
Saturday I welcomed Dublin's early morning glow with a heart both warm and cold, knowing that this is where I'll spend the next x-number of days in a holding pattern of my own, waiting for my love to return from war.
War is an ugly thing. It's ugly and brutal, lonely and chaotic, and even exotic. I haven't been to war myself, but I know it requires eating goat for dinner most nights, and that strawberries don't make it to war often but that when they do they are coveted. I know that war means hearing people die over the radio and trying not to be the one others are listening to when the radio's on. War is an indirect part of my life, it's what keeps me alone most of the time and also what enables me to live in beautiful, expensive Ireland when I must be alone. The one thing I know best about war is also the most unfortunate thing I know about it: it pays well.
This is my husband's second round of war. He returned from a 13-month deployment in May, and is heading over for another 18 months tomorrow. War, for him, means living in a plywood box, working 17-plus hours a day with no days off. It means getting screwed out of that 30 days of leave the [heartless and uncompromising] Army promised him when they decided to change the rules after he'd bought his tickets home, and it means eating lots of goat and rarely seeing strawberries. For him it means care packages filled with things he really can't use, because those of us who haven't been to war send things like snacks and stuffed animals instead of fresh underwear and socks and M-9 holsters, and it means listening to people die over the radio and later trying to figure out which pieces go with which body when they are dragged in for identification. It means long, dog-tiring days and lonely nights and getting paid four times what he normally would when he's not deployed. At the end of it all, hopefully it means a house of our own in Ireland with no mortgage and a quiet life picking blackberries and drinking Guinness by a crackling coal fire.
So, with my Milo off to war again, I come with my nine-year-old son, Caoilte, back to Ireland, and realise that my job now is to create a home while Milo and I wait out the war on opposite sides of the world. While Milo sits down to eat goat, Caoilte and I are watching them scrabble up the side of mount something-or-other in the cloud-split sunlight of Kerry in autumn. We're living in holiday cottages, hotels and youth hostels trying to figure out what and where home might be for the next couple of years. This blog is the story of our adventures, whatever they are and wherever they may take us.
War is, oddly, two of the most incongruous things - it is both provider and thief. It makes it difficult for those left behind to know which is really the greater evil - war or peace.