It’s actually a little weird to write that. I never thought I would have one. I guess I just assumed that Iraq would always be in my life.
But here I am.
Being with Iraq has been, I suppose, a lot like being trapped in a loveless marriage. I’ve known her strengths and weaknesses, what makes her happy and sad. There had been things that I could do to calm her down, to sooth her nerves and make her day better. But there had also been things that I could do that would rile her up, piss her off enough to where I knew she’d threaten to make war with me. Love, hate — we’d been together for so long that we’d long ago stopped talking about such things. We’d start our days together, and sometimes end them that way, too — we were together yesterday, we’re together today, so surely will still be together tomorrow.
Only now we aren’t.
I don’t miss her, but I remember her. The way she smelled. Her dust, so fine that it could feel like silk one second and a cancerous grit the next. The gentle sounds she’d make in the morning, long before anyone stirred or even the first call to prayer.
In the end, there was no fight, no explosive end or outburst. No, it just ended, unremarkably.
I could not go back to Iraq, and that’d be just fine with me. I don’t long for my kids to have the chance to visit, to see the sights and hear the sounds, to soak up her people and culture and unique magic. I’d prefer they have the chance to go to Disneyland.
And so, here I am, normal again. Like everyone else. I have my tribe, my people, my place. We have our ways, and our words, and our things, and I’m no longer caught between my world and Iraq. And that’s OK. I am at peace with this.