Sunday, January 10, 2016

An Eleven Year Streak Has Come to an End...

It frankly surprised me that I could serve my country in Iraq, while we were still the occupying force of that country, and afterwards I would dream about it so little.

And by "so little," I mean, not at all.

Until last night.

Once upon a time I was an Arabic Linguist at the National Security Agency.

I enlisted for that service after 9/11. And I later readily accepted the opportunity to do a tour in Iraq in 2004, while the war was still raging.

I was in Iraq from June, 2004 until September 2004. Strangely, for the entire time I was there I never dreamt I was there. But the first night I was finally out of there, sleeping in a hotel room in Amman, Jordan, I dreamt that I was in Iraq.

And then I never dreamt about it again.

Until last night.

More than eleven years have passed since I flew out of Iraq. The absence of dreams about it became something of a curiosity. 

I mean, I went to college, like so many other people. And I have, from time to time, that classic college stress dream in which I find a book in my bag that implies I am enrolled in a class I never went to and to which I must now sit for an exam.

But I also went to Iraq. I was in a war zone. I ran from mortar fire. I feared for my life. 

Why did that not become a recurrent theme in my dream life?

Until last night.

Anyway, in my dream last night, I was not there in 2004, rather, I was there NOW. I was at a secret CIA base somewhere in Iraq, I didn't even exactly know where.  And I was expected to be doing the job I did there in 2004--monitoring intercepted communications primarily for Force Protection purposes. (Force Protection means finding any indication of a possible attack on Coalition Forces.)

But they had no work station for me. I kept saying to my boss, I can't do my job if you don't give me a work station. Please, give me a work station. I want to do the job I'm here to do.

I looked out a window and reflected on the fact (in that dream) that I was in Iraq. And I felt angry that I was helpless to help, since they had no work station ready for me to do my job.

And that's when I woke up.

I'll be going to sleep in a little bit. I don't want to dream I'm in Iraq ever again. 

But now that it has finally happened, I simply offer a prayer for all of our war fighters in harm's way. 

I wish I could assist you to the best of my ability. And if they gave me a work station even now, you could be assured of my attention.

Keep your head down. Come home safe...

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