25 September 2007

25 SEP 2007 There goes the neighborhood

25 SEP 2007

There goes the neighborhood

I'm living in the same barrio I infested the last time I visited Mesopotamia. It is a
trailer park with duplexes and triplexes nestled in a maze of sandbag walls and concrete
barriers. I've moved on up, to the east side, to a deluxe wet trailer, on the side. My new
digs are in the F pod, and I've left the rabble of the A pod behind. This is because I
pinned on rank since my last visit to the litter box. The trailer looks exactly the same,
but it is a major advance in luxury because now I am permitted to pee indoors, rather than
hoof it through the dust to a port-a-potty in the middle of the night. I share a tiny
bathroom in the middle of the trailer with another officer. This one room efficiency with
shared bathroom may seem spartan, but you have to consider that it is more luxurious than
the domiciles of 99.9% of the troops camped out over her. The lucky ones are in bunk beds in
quarters, and others are in tents or shelters of opportunity. I face one annoyance:
sometimes I'm kept awake by the noises from the wacker that I can hear through my wall. The wacker is a self-contained gas-burning generator and street lamp that voiciferously lights the roadway next to my trailer.

Since I inherited a creaky mountain bike from departing plastic surgeon, M., I have been on
mounted patrol again. I took the opportunity to take a roll down memory lane and cruised
through the A pod. I passed my old haunts, trailer A9. the place looked the same. Sun
decroded sandbags leaked cascades of dusty earth around its perimeter. The dented air
conditioning unit hummed continuously, and fronds of dust lined its louvers. The plywood
steps were more splintered at the edges, layers of coarse wood separating and a deeper sag
in the middle.

Only one change disturbed me. When I left there had been a proud row of sunflowers adorning
the eastern exposure. Now the broad footprint of a 12 foot tall concrete barrier was
squarely planted across the length of the flowerbed. True, the safer the better, but it will
be a happier day when a row of flowers is more valuable than a wall to intercept rockets and
mortars. Perhaps the base will be a station for families when that day arrives.

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