Writing Wrongs

September 03, 2006

We have a skylight above the bed that, when it rains, amplifies the sound. It makes me think of camping, of bivouac, of sleeping in the rain.

Because I did a lot of that, in Girl Scouts, in the Army. And itís funny, but people always laughed at me when I mentioned I learned how to sleep and stay dry in the rain as a Girl Scout. Most of them stopped laughing when I was dry in the morning and they werenít.

I had it down to a science, too, because a lot of times on field exercises, we didnít bother with tents. Sometimes we didnít bother with cots, but they were easy--well, sort of--to set up and they kept you off the ground.

When we moved forward to that murky border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, we stripped the unit down--left behind equipment, left behind people (thatís another story). If it wasnít indispensable, it didnít go forward.

I slept next to the 577 mobile command post. It had tracks like a tank but without any of the armor. With all the antennae sprouting from the top of it, it was a natural target for an RPG (rocket propelled grenade). During the day, I worked inside, and at night, I listened to the radios, the sand, and the rain.

Iíd take my rain poncho and a couple of bungee cords and secure the poncho to my cot, working from the bottom up. Iíd lash myself in, hooking the bungee to the grommets in the liner and the cotís crossbars.

The last corner was the hardest because Iíd have to do that from the inside, working my fingers through the small gaps to tie a final slipknot. Sometimes Iíd prop a flashlight on my shoulder and read. Sometimes Iíd just listen. Sometimes I couldnít tell the difference between the sand and the rain unless I stuck a finger between one of those gaps. And sometimes the sting was nearly identical.

In the morning, Master Sergeant D. always brought me a cup of coffee. I think he liked to laugh at my hair. It was a fair trade. (And I wonít go into what several weeks of not showering does to oneís hair, except to quote Kyra: ďEw. That is so yuck.Ē) He also liked to laugh at the lieutenant whose cot was across from mine, who somehow ended up in a puddle of water--or sand--every morning.

But then, that lieutenant had never been a Girl Scout.

When I drink an especially robust dark roast, I think of Master Sergeant D. (His ďspecial brewĒ was on our list of indispensable items.) And when the rain beats on our skylight, it reminds me of the sound of sand against canvas.

Charity Tahmaseb wrote at 10:53 a.m.