TRANSLATION: MEMPHIS: Storm 

Waking up after a storm and before a storm. It is morning here in Memphis and I’m told that the dust storms are kicking up in Iraq.

Waking up and the strange interplay of light and shadow in my front yard makes everything look overcharged, exaggerated. A breeze blowing the shadows around my head and making the morning seem nothing but surreal.

Waking up on the eve of war, and unable to think about other things, really.

We are within hours of the proclaimed deadline for the military strike that either is or isn’t being made with the purpose of expunging Saddam, depending upon who you listen to.

So does it matter that the colors in my yard look hyper-saturated, like a video on MTV?

Not really, I guess.

The clichŽ we always hear is about the calm before the storm. Last night my windows rattled and lightening danced down my street, and I thought about what it would be like to hear that same sound, but know that it was a bomb. A bomb that is man-made, unlike the thunder that is nature’s.

It has been a month since what was reportedly the largest worldwide peace demonstration in human history, but it doesn’t really matter now whether one is for against the war. Aside from giving us a comfortable space in which to exchange dialogue with those who walk on our side of the fence.

Whichever side that might be.

Because it is happening. And last night I watched the news and cried.

You see, I can’t help but think that the combined number of troops there from here and Britain is the equivalent of 41,667 times the number of people in my immediate family. I think about the piece on Nightline last night indicating that many of our troops are 18, view Baghdad as their only route home, and thus are more than ready to fight.

I can’t help but think about the remaining civilians in Baghdad who are building "safe rooms" in their homes, who battle for meager medical supplies, who board up their businesses and wait.

I think about armed troops patrolling New York City in numbers not seen since immediately after September 11th.

I think about words like thug, warlord, military strike and intervention.

And again, whether you are for against the war, it is nevertheless real. Whether you want it or despise it there are real people over there who will experience this conflict in actuality, as opposed to the way that I will, as an audience member and in theory.

Over the Internet recently there have been myriad prayer wheels in my inbox, beckoning me to pray for our troops in the Middle East. And I will, but I will also pray for everybody else who is over there. I will pray for it to end quickly.

I will pray that we remain safe here at home, and I can only imagine how that sentiment might be mirrored from any apartment not already vacated in Baghdad.

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