Life is Good Today

Tonight, hanging low in the eastern sky, in the soft yellow glow I saw the man in the moon. Yes, it seems like there are men everywhere!

I had dinner tonight with a pretty amazing man though, my sorority sister, Melissa’s husband.

It was so nice to see a familiar face, and laugh about the monotony of DFAC food & how it all tastes the same. After we ate, we sat outside the promenade in front of the PX. There were a few groups enjoying BBQs around us, playing some great tunes from Sublime to Sweet Caroline.

When Toes filled the background of our conversation, I interrupted to say, “I like this song.” And Tom said, “I’m forgetting that I’m in Baghdad right now. It’s so normal.” All along the promenade are mist machines, drizzling a cool, refreshing fog amidst the 120° heat. Nothing looks normal, nothing tastes normal, nothing smells normal, but chatting with a familiar face, and good tunes blasting through the iPod carries the fa├žade of normalcy.

Speaking of smells, I started my first day of work today. I’m working at the Embassy in the Consular Affairs section escorting Iraqis through the visa application process at the Embassy. It’s much different from my last job here where I ran around, graciously, like a chicken with my head cut off throwing parties, receptions, and greeting the Government of Iraq (GOI). I am working with the people. And it’s not a desk job!

I love it! Yes, it’s hot, but the hours are good, and I will be speaking Arabic in no time, I am sure of it. (I practiced my numbers counting out loud and got all the way to 8 today…)

But, back to the smells.

When I touched down at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) on Sunday, the heat wasn’t the first thing I noticed; it was the smell. The dusty air carries tobacco from chain smoking and hooka mixed with the sweet smell of chai and body oder. Put all this on a shuttle bus, add 30 people, children, and the dousing of cheap cologne and perfume, and you’ve got the worst part of my job.

Tonight at the gym, I brainstormed that I would carry a sack of lavender with me, and tap into an anchor and calming scent…not sure if that will clash with all the other aromas or not, I was also thinking, maybe febreze and I could spray down the seats on the bus. I passed by the PX yesterday afternoon, and wanted a nice scent to spray around my room. Sometimes the array of choices in the scent department gets overwhelming, but my eyes fell on a spray bottle of “lavender, vanilla + comfort” and I was sold.

Do you know what comfort smells like?

I can’t describe the scent, but sitting in a familiar place with a familiar face tonight was comforting. Even on the other side of the world, it’s a priceless piece of normalcy that is strength.

So day 1 of my role in Operation New Hope is good today (thanks for singing it Zac Brown Band: