You Blow Stuff Up

storytelling

Before my dad disappeared to sail around the world when I was 11, I spent every other weekend with him. All he wanted to watch was war movies. I HATED war movies — I was a little girl. A girly-girl. Before my world exploded.

Now, all I watch is war footage — documentaries, YouTube videos, movies about Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s because I’m completing a pilot about Iraq — and thinking about turning the pilot’s cut file into a feature. But the fact remains, that I’m watching my dad’s movies now. I am awake to symmetries in my life. Motifs. There are no accidents.

My dad loved watching people blow stuff up. I love watching what happens to people when they get blown up. War thrusts our worst inwards outward. I am compelled by people losing that much, that quickly.

I posted this story on Twitter a few days ago, in which Capt. Alexander Allan discusses pictures from his new book Afghanistan: A Tour of Duty. One of his comrades had his leg blown off. His buddies found the leg some time later, wrapped in a sheet. They made sure it wasn’t booby-trapped and took it back to camp. They burned it, manning the fire in shifts. Each took his turn to say goodbye. They let go.

I can’t stop thinking of these soldiers burning the leg. Can’t stop thinking of what I’ve left behind, that needs burning.