earlier tonight (yes, i am 8 hours ahead of those of you on the east coast) i went swimming in one of saddam's pools. a poolside dj played hits of the 80 (it's that an oxymoron??) while my Battle and i floated in the shadowy warm water, staring up at a PERFECT moon through the palm trees. a group of guys played volleyball next to us and people along the pool smoked cigarettes and laughed to each other.
before we went swimming, i ate a ridiculously good chicken wrap in the dining facility, and Battle and i walked back to our rooms to get our towels along the carved-stone walkways, eating ice cream cones.
how can i even tell you about this? how can i make you see how it isn't what you thing, it isn't what I thought, either. i feel so guilty enjoying this... people are our in such worse conditions... and here i am drinking lattes in the palace, not wearing any body armor, not worrying about IEDs along the road i take to work or car bombs going off in the parking lot... sure, there is the occasional mortal, but it's NOTHING like it is elsewhere. the environment here in the embassy compound is a professional, white-collar one. can you understand how i could come to love this place? i can feel myself slipping, getting comfortable... here in iraq. iraq. iraq.
and the palace... my god... how could someone ever LIVE like this while his people are struggling in such poverty? i saw the pictures from the first invasion of the insane wealth, i'm sure you have too... it's so much different when it's right here in front of you. much of the furniture was stolen or destroyed in the beginning of the war, but a scattering of ornate couches and chairs remain. the walls, the marble floors, domed ceilings... you know what? there is nothing i can say that will help you to understand. my words are failing me; i am incapable of painting a picture for you to see, to touch and smell and taste. this place is nothing like i have ever seen, nor anything i could have ever imagined. you see the pictures and you think you understand, but you don't, trust me, you don't.
it must have been like a sinister disneyland, only instead of mickey's face everywhere, it was saddam, all saddam... statues and posters and murals, huge portraits now covered with drapes in the palace. where does such arrogance come from? how could he watch the parades he forced his people to hold in his honor, oversee the construction of yet ANOTHER palace? how could he sleep at night knowing there was such a stark difference between his life and the life of those in his country? and the deaths he ordered...
it makes me embarrassed for mankind.
and i have realized how little i knew (and still know) about the world. it boggles my fucking mind.
"...well, i'm here to tell you now, each and ev'ry mother's son,
you better learn it fast, you better learn it young
'cause 'someday' never comes..."
- Creedence Clearwater Revival "Someday Never Comes" -