I’m struggling today to put together everything that’s happened in just over a week to make some semblance of rational, sensible order in my head. But I think that’s because this week has been about as far from sensible or rational as you can get – for both of us.
Only a couple of weeks ago I was in a restaurant in Itaewon laughing at [Captain America] pounding South African Chardonnay like it was water and shaking my head again at how much he camps up with the merest whiff of alcohol. If ever there was a pretty boy born to wear spandex adorned with the Star Spangled Banner, it’s [Captain America]. He misses you. Really misses you. I miss watching you two banter off each other like you’re brothers who’ve known each other all your lives, rather than a junior Lieutenant and his mentor who only met a year ago. There is no way he’ll find a best friend to match you in Honduras. I’m sure the Honduran ladies will be appreciative of his All American-ness enough so he doesn’t mind too much. As long as he keeps the song and dance acts to a minimum so they don’t worry about the spandex.
Everything started out so normal last week. Well, rational at least. Some text banter that I’m sure was very annoying over there for you by a drunken [Danger 2] when I stayed over with him and [Korean Beauty]. It just made us all a bit too sad that you weren’t here. Then we both pushed on into the week in our different parts of the world. And the sense just seemed to go out the window. But in the two places where you and I are ‘rolling with the punches’ at the moment, I’m starting to realise we should forget about sensible.
The Mother of All Bombs. You didn’t have to tell me how close you were. I had Google maps open the minute the news alert flashed on my screen. And before we could even talk about the Freudian symbolism of that decision, I was shaking hands with your Vice President up on the border of North Korea while enough camera crews to satisfy a Kardashian family outing were literally pushing leaning on my shoulders. I didn’t know at that stage the ‘mother of all rhetoric’ bombs that were being lobbed cavalierly into that tension soup. Everyone here has been going about normal everyday business a little bewildered at the number of messages coming from every corner of the globe to try to get the on the ground assessment of how bad things really are here. (Answer – they aren’t. We’re all just a bit baffled by the spinning top of words and news reports that look like they’re going to topple over the edge into fantasyland hysteria). I think the most bizarre moment I had was reassuring the anxious [Some Latino] embassy in the middle of the night that the UK tabloid news link they sent me had about as much basis in reality as a Harry Potter film.
I think over the weekend I was starting to accept the governing strangeness of this new not-quite-reality. I even ignored the Australian and New Zealand media spinning things up after some off-the cuff rhetoric bomb directed at the bottom of the planet. My mum has at least stopped texting me just to make sure I’m not under siege after the daily evening news back home.
This week started feeling like rationality might just win out as I saluted flags and gallant veterans at traditional commemorations of Commonwealth heroism in South Korea 66 years ago.
The poignancy of the Last Post at dawn today reminded all of us of the ANZAC sacrifice to ensure the civilized, rational world we really do live in after all. A world so civilized that a US General getting angry that I was handing him the wrong commemorative wreath – because the Korean General jumped the line – was the biggest concern of my day. I sat down to breakfast with the other ANZACs in our dress uniforms, with a splash of Irish in our coffees in tribute to our predecessors, and the world was rational.
But then I read the text you’d sent me while those wreath Generals were shuffling for commemorative positions – and the whole world flipped upside down, inside out. Irrational. Nonsensical. To read just 100 or so characters that include ‘VBIED’ and ‘KIA’ takes stopped my heart.
‘Don’t worry, I’m ok’. I’m hanging onto those four words because they are the only reason my heart started to beat again. I cannot express how relieved I am that you’re safe. Please stay safe you. Please. I need you to be here, in all this craziness, for this world to make any sense.