It was one week ago today I re-arrived to Baghdad. Feels like it’s been much longer, because it’s the same old, same old.
Crossing paths with a familiar face, there is a pause, gasp, reaction, “You’re back!” warm embrace, familiarities exchanged. And I’m walking away with this surreal neutrality that not much has changed.
I wake up, head straight to work.
The first 3 days I woke up early, showered, dusted on light makeup and instantly wondered why I’d spent so much time, when in my 8 minute walk I was melting, beginning to sweat and covered in a light layer of dust. So, by day 4, my routine is popping up out of bed in time to brush my teeth and walk to the bus stop.
From here I ride the shuttle to the entrance of the redzone and escort the Iraqis who have appointments to the US Embassy Consular waiting room as they begin their immigration visa or passport process. Later in the morning and early afternoon I escort them back off the Embassy grounds, and ride the shuttle back with them as they exit the green zone.
<< Ooooph >> as I type, the sinking sound of the earth swallowing itself echoes in the distance. I live in the “East End” apartments now, and the Duck & Cover alarm isn’t activated, so there is no annoying siren telling me to “duck & cover, move away from the windows, take cover and await further instruction.” In a way, it’s nice not to be alarmed.
But back to the simple life. The DFAC (dining facility) hours have not changed. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served like clockwork. Baghdaddy’s the Embassy bar is open for business on Thursdays and a more low-key Friday night. Saturdays the Embassy is lazy is a quiet, and Green Bean Coffee is open for a casual cup of joe. Sundays, the wine club meets. And intermixed of course, each outside entity has staked claim to various nights of the month for LaDiEs NiGHtS and themed parties.
Skool Disco is coming up at the UK Embassy, and I have the perfect outfit. Try as I might to avoid any social scene, there is not much going on besides the who’s who and what’s what at all the locations you have to know someone to get in to. And, yes, it feels nice to have my name on the list. So I participate :o)
Oh, by the way, we’ve gotten the “All clear. All clear. All clear” so not to worry. (I can hear the intercom vaguely from outside.) (Now, if I can hear a speaker through cement, do you think my living structure is securely hardened? Insha’Allah)
It’s a simple life. Minus the threat of loss of life, the routine is predictable. (And how ironic that in my early summation a rocket has landed somewhere nearby.) Amidst constant change, predictability really fosters a routine. And when you have a few thousand people on the same routine, it becomes a rather simple life.