War Journal 41: Zeebrugge

It figures as soon as I confess my need for balance I’d get shifted a bit.  But sometimes balance, or at least inspiration, happens in the most unlikeliest of times. Here’s where I’ve been, what I’ve been up to.

Just when I thought I had seen enough of Afghanistan, duty called sending me to FOB Zeebrugge.  I assumed Zee was going to be remote, unpleasant, hard on a brother.  It was.  But it also blew away my assumptions.  The place was beautiful.

The base sits near Kajaki Dam.  Don’t misunderstand me, the FOB itself is beaten down, full of crumbling mud brick buildings that seemed less liveable than tents.  But Zee sat on a cliff overlooking the river.  On the other side of the river bank, a lush copse of trees grew, leading up to a town that looked like it was Bethlehem’s sister city.

The sweltering heat was no fun, especially when we tried to get some sleep in these mud brick buildings that retained the day’s heat.  The lack of comms was especially heinous.  The view was perfect.  Even at night, when I had to escape the quarters that served as a brick oven, I’d go outside to cool down and the stars twinkled all around me.  The swath of the Milky Way wove a course through the heavens, something I hadn’t seen in such a long time in the States or my home station.  And as I looked up at it, I felt a familiar feeling, one from my childhood, where I went to the Planetarium and I got lost in the sight of so many lights, so many possibilities.  That feeling is what enamored me to science fiction in the first place.

I live in “what if’s”.  What if I hadn’t gone to Zee?   I imagine I would’ve gotten more writing done, my blog would’ve been much more timely, I probably would’ve finished this story I’m currently at task at.  But I would’ve missed something that’s hard to put a tag on. I would’ve lost a life moment, those times that enliven, rejuvenate, inspire.

As we left the site, we flew over Kajaki dam lake.  We were at that magical stage in the flight of a helicopter, where we still ascending, the ground close enough as we looked out the back that it felt like you could reach out and touch it.  The waters of the lake seem to go on forever, an ocean surrounded by mountains.  Timeless.  The pilot let some chaff go, and streams of white smoke shot out,  trailing behind the helicopter as it rose and the lake fell away.

Here’s to expectations defied.  Enjoy the pictures.

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1 Comment

Filed under War Journals

One response to “War Journal 41: Zeebrugge

  1. Robert Qualkinbush

    That’s really cool, James. I’m really glad I signed up for your blog.
    Hey, what’s your snail mail? Will send mail. Promise.

    Robert

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