Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Khaki World

This morning one of the Filipina girls who cleans around here asked if she could touch my hair. While this sounds odd at first you have to understand that we are like an Alien species to some of these folks from rural areas of the PI. Most of them had never had a lot of contact with Americans before they came over here. There was nothing sexual about this, just curiosity. They are almost childlike sometimes with the questions they ask and the way they act.

I let her touch it. She then rubbed her hands through it. My short vertical nubs of hair stay soft because my wife taught me how to use conditioner. The girl said,"Oh sir, it is so nice and I like the color, same your pants."

I am wearing Khaki pants. I always wear Khaki pants. I have Khaki shirts, t shirts, socks, boots, jackets, shirts, and now my hair is Khaki. The earth here is Khaki colored, so are the vehicles. They were splattered with mud that has since dried a nice Khaki color. The tactical vehicles are all Khaki colored. Every M1A1, Bradley, truck, track, etc. is Khaki colored. The flight suits for the aviators are Khaki. All the buildings are Khaki colored. My bedspread and sheets are Khaki. Even the moon is Khaki colored. The wind blows up dust clouds which colorize the moon and stars like one of those cheap plastic contraptions they sold in the 60s to turn your B&W TV into a "Color" set. With all this Khaki I now have the notion that I have Khaki hair too.

I miss the colors of the world, especially green. There is nothing here that is green save some water, the black-green helicopters, and the new light green/Khaki digpixel ACUs the troops are now wearing. The sparse vegetation is grayish-green or some other odd color. There are no bright, glowing greens, no luminescent comforting greens. There is no blue water. The rivers are a dark, dank, putrid mix of dark green and brown. The ponds are brown or black. Some of the canals are blue but not many and you can only see those from the air. The people don't wear bright colors. It seems that they downplay the color in an effort to avoid anyone noticing them. I'm not sure if that is cultural or a leftover from Saddamism. Who would want the Baath Party to notice them?

The only things brightly colored here are the inside of the DFACs and the MWR centers. Maybe that is why we get so talkative in the DFAC. Maybe it is not the ancient ritual of breaking bread. Maybe it is the ability to let your guard down a bit. The colors and the noise are a reasurance that we are safe for a while and that we actually remember our former, normal lives.

I'll return home one day and this sense of isolation, weariness, and dreariness will go away. I hope so but at the same time I hope I never lose some of the things I have discovered about myself over here. I will remember the Khaki World and I will tell my son about it. I will remember those who were with me both good and bad. Once I get back to that world I may never wear Khaki again. I may but then again maybe it will provide with a different sense of comfort as a reminder. I will always know that no matter what happens in my life in the land of the big PX it is a minor issue compared to the challenges we have faced here.

The Khaki World has forced me to look inward at myself and face some demons. I has also forced me to see what I am succesful at too and to focus on that path. Like many people in many campaigns I can't wait for this to all be over but at the same time I would not trade my experiences for anything. I will return to the world of color but the Khaki world will always be with me.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Fritz said...

Your wife might have taught you how to keep your hair soft but that other person was taught how to keep your XXXX stiff. Watch yourself son or you may return to a world of color - black and blue!

2:51 PM  
Blogger Good Lieutenant said...

Hang in there, bro.

There are plenty of oaks, maples, evergreens and fields of green and gold waiting for you here at home.

We'll tend to them and keep the home fires burning for ya.

May God Bless and Keep you. Come home safe.

4:01 PM  
Blogger flythemig29 said...

Never has happened and never will! You know that better than anyone else Fritz. I look at those little girls like children.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Fritz said...

James,
I know that and didn't realize that my mail sounded as bad as it does when I read it back. I am sorry for the comment. I was careless with my comment knowing you as well as I do and having seen how you care for the workers any misuse of their trust would be the farthest thing from the truth. I am sorry for the comment made earlier.
Fritz

5:32 PM  

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