I’m having an odd day in an odd year. Not really sure what direction this discussion will take, but what the hell. Hold onto my beer and watch this…
It all started with a beautiful cover of a Hendrix song.
Since I came home, music has been tough for me. Not sure why, it just makes me a bit sensitive (for lack of a better word). So I ration my listening fairly carefully and I turn it off if it gets to be too much.
Today was one of those days. I could barely stand to hear the soulfully played song.
No idea why this is, I’ve never brought it up with the VA people. I have only noticed this lack of control since Afghanistan, though.
I could go on at boring length about some of the stuff that plays in my head, but I won’t. Anyone can wikipedia some of the results of combat exposure and blast trauma, so if you feel like making yourself smart about this stuff, go right ahead. I won’t stop you.
I dunno, a lot of this thinking was brought about by the weather and the re-discovery of some old images hidden deep within the files of my old computer; I backed up the old MacBook when I busted out the new machine (Thanks, Prime Day!). Lo and behold I came across a couple of Power Points my old boss had me write.
I thought they were corrupted beyond any use, gone forever.
It turns out they were just outdated and inaccessible with the junky old software.
With some degree of trepidation, I opened the file called “Explosive Hazards of “x” Province, Afghanistan, October 2011.”
Good God, it was riddled with images I took and catalogued some nine years ago. Stuff I thought I had forgotten, like the blast crater below.
Just a dumb hole in the ground, you say. Yeah, it is that.
But there’s a story there. You see, I watched that hole being made. I watched as an Afghan Police truck passed over that exact spot. The IED with my name on it, but not that day, exploded violently.
The bomb was planted along a road I travelled daily, either on foot or riding as shown below.
Riding as the gunner on an 1151 Humvee.
Good God I shook like a leaf as we rode through that crater shortly thereafter. I nearly pissed myself as I felt the truck lurch while passing through the hole. That bomb. That Improvised Explosive Device. It sought to tear the life from me, to blast me and my friends to rags and red filth.
So yeah, maybe I should have never opened that file.
But that’s the hell of it. These days nothing electronic ever truly dies. Long after I have passed someone cruising the web or whatever will be able to search for images of the Afghan War, and there I will be, in living color. Maybe even rendered in a 3D hologram or something.
So the war will never truly die with us, its combatants.
It will be preserved, like a fly in amber.
I have my doubts as to whether this is a good thing. No, you know what? It’s not. But it doesn’t matter, the cat is out of the bag for good. Digital immortality is upon us, for better or worse.
For an eternity I will ride on top of my machine in my gunner’s harness, my right hand on my trusty PK. For uncountable years I will wait on the explosion.
This. As I sit behind this computer typing, my teeth chatter. I remember.
There is no forgetting. Likewise forgiveness. Understanding, the same.
All that is left is to endure.