Deboarding into the dark, the dusty air carries the all too familiar scent of dust laced with traces of gun powder and thick exhaust.
I don't want to be here. My nose is bleeding by the time I walk from the plane to the warehouse/trailer that serves as the terminal. Because the sand is so fine, just breathing, it cuts the inside of my nose, which had gotten quite comfortable with fresh, American air. Hunkered down on a cement floor, soldiers sit all around me with circumstances more challenging than my own (and gear twice as heavy).
First miracle of Baghdad, a helo. All missions were cancelled and I was told I'd be arriving back to the IZ sometime in the middle of the night. Argh! The tears wanted to burst out, but I knew I'd look like the baby I felt like and there is no one to coddle me here.
I decided I'd walk to the helicopter desk and ask if I could get manifested. Please God, please The quick response was "Yes, you can go. I'll call you shortly" Woo Hoo! That would put me back in the IZ before dinner was over. The end of this journey was in sight. And I was reminded in this miracle that this is where I'm supposed to be. And now I'll be expedited returning. I know Afghanistan is going to be even harder and I'm still prepared for it, but mentally it's hard to shake back into accepting this season of my life.
Flying over the Red Zone still gives me butterflies. The army helicopter pilots look so cool. Their vigilance makes me ever grateful for my freedom.
When my helo landed, I called my friend Yousef, who is a driver in the IZ and he picked me up within minutes.
When I walked into 406, my amazing roommate greeted me and I was happy to "be home". The Italian Embassy was having a pizza party that I decided to fore go (And I am so glad I did, waking up the next morning to a puffy face that gave away the fact I'd been on a plane for 48 hours made me glad I'd skipped the sauce and slept!)
Crawling into my bed, I felt comfortable. I'd forgotten about this homey, loving oasis I have when I leave the stresses of work.
The adventure reconvenes tomorrow.