The other day I had dinner with a group of people including a young man whom, while on patrol in Abu Ghairab, was blown up by an IED. He was clinically dead for three minutes, and then discovered, when he was revived, that his memories of high school had stayed behind. They were gone forever. Two weeks later he was back on patrol. Two weeks after that, he was blown up again.
“Some days,” he says, “All I want is to go back.”
I drove to New York late that night. It was after midnight, Otis slept soundly and the roads were clear through southern Jersey. As I drove I had the thought, yet again, oh why do we make it so difficult for ourselves? We come into the world pure.
And then are fed toxic ideas until they define us.
Then when they put a gun in our hand and say blow up Mumbai, we do. When they put the idea that we are our bank account in our heads, we believe it. Four is less than five, they say, and we agree, and accept that our lives are less than in some significant, inalterable way.
Back here at Gallaudet, the semester is finishing up. Students rush to finish projects and complete four months of reading in a week. They hurry about with a sense of purpose that was largely absent earlier. Evenings at the dog park at the edge of campus, a bunch of students and I shiver with our hands in our pockets while our dogs play you can’t catch me.
I’m gonna run. You see me running? You see? You. Can’t. Catch. Me.
One by one the students leave to get back to their work. Two police cars drive fiercely down West Virginia Avenue, lights flashing. I stand in the dark with Otis, watching them go by.
There are fences everywhere around the campus, and how can we break them? There’s walls around our hearts, how can we bring them down?