"... The anger doesn’t come because Matt left. He had no choice. This situation is entirely out his control. It’s out of my control. Sometimes I think it’s even out of our government’s control. I don’t feel angry because I’m alone. I’ve been alone before and I like to think that I’m independent enough to handle it. Perhaps I’m angry because this war is happening at all. I’ve long felt opposed to the action in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I know myself, and I know I’m not the type to feel such consuming anger about something general, about something as large as a country or as a war. I can feel disappointed and depressed, yes. But I think I’m angry because I’m afraid. Someone I love is somewhere quite dangerous, and I’m very afraid.... I like the idea that I can blame my anger, which feels both helpless and useless, on evolution. My brain just isn’t made to feel this terror for a danger that resides half a world away. I’m not programmed to think of such opaque realities, of such theoretical monstrosities.... And I have to remember to be aware. I need to be aware of my anger, and of my fear. I don’t often know where these feelings come from, but I am prepared to look them in the eye and deal with their presence. I will take it one day at a time, and I will think about Matt, who doesn’t have the distraction of holidays and picnics to shield him from unwanted emotion. And I will think about my friends, who feed me cake and keep me busy and watch fireworks on the street in front of my apartment after the sun goes down."
"A sandstorm rages outside my makeshift office on a U.S. military outpost in eastern Afghanistan. Soldiers lean into the wind, their noses pressed into the crooks of their elbows, squinting as they scan for shelter from the stinging wind. The rocky desert mountains surrounding the camp are now all but obscured by the enveloping haze.Eventually, the dust will subside and tonight’s full moon will emerge, casting a glow over our base that in any other setting would seem peaceful. Here, however, the illumination offers would-be attackers an opportunity, and it can be deadly....Gardez is a bewitching place, hardened, like its people, to the elements. It is steeped in a history of violence that has repeled the most determined of marauding armies. Only a few miles to the east and south lies the border with Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an inconsequential demarcation from a bygone age of empire to which the tribal Pashtuns here pay no mind. Indeed, it is in the infinite caves and canyons of this sliver of Pakistan that the Taliban now launch daily attacks against us."
"Where was home for me? I asked myself. Who do I rely on?
I had struggled with these questions many times over the last few years, but they now seemed so simple. The answer to both of course was Molly. Having moved myself five times in two years across three continents, Molly has been the only constant in my life. She has kept me grounded, connected somehow to a comforting if ethereal notion of home. Molly has been a rock.And she is what matters most right now. Not the work, which will mean little in seven months. Not the ring, which can be replaced. What’s important is that I do better at letting Molly know how much she means to me, how I couldn’t do this without her, how everything reminds me of her. Even the most exotic oriental headwear from a far-off desert land."