There are days in Kabul where I get very tired of life here. The days where no matter how hard you try to be positive, you just feel down. It's easy to feel that way sometimes, when upset stomachs are so common that we hand out Cipro like children's vitamins and when giardia is appropriate lunch conversation. When the heat makes everyone irritable, and the open stares and little comments of men on the street make me long for home. When the electricity keeps going out, and the Internet keeps going out, and it seems like every truck in the city has to drive by my window fifteen minutes after I've finally fallen asleep and then every ten minutes thereafter.
All of these are minor irritations, usually chased easily away by the taste of a juicy Kabul watermelon, carefully washed, or a barbecue in the garden, ignoring the barbed wire on the compound walls. But sometimes, the seriousness of life hits, and those concerns aren't so quickly dismissed.
I just heard that a friend was badly injured in a recent attack. She was in the shower when an RPG hit her building, part of a coordinated attack that threatened the lives of several people I know. There were armed men who broke into the compound, guards who fought back, a gurka who died a hero as others fled to safety. My friend escaped with her life but with 3rd degree burns on 99% of her body.
I heard all of these details as I sat on the sidelines of our weekly Frisbee game, beside a guy who is a tough and talented Frisbee player but who broke down a little as we talked. Because Barbara was his friend, because he had other friends in that compound, because he'd been at that compound just before the attack. But also because that attack violated something that we take for granted- the safety of our homes. It was a reminder that the danger here isn't confined to Helmand or Kandahar, isn't avoided simply by using common sense and not driving in the bad areas. Sometimes danger comes to you even when you do nothing wrong. Sometimes even the most heavily guarded compounds come under attack, and although Frisbee games and garden barbecues help us stay sane, sometimes those bits of self care just feel frivolous. It feels wrong to play when Barbara is in critical condition, and it feels wrong to laugh and joke like everything is okay when so many of us are as shaken as my fellow Frisbee player on the sidelines.
Between all of that, and feeling really sick for the last four days, and saying final goodbyes to some very close friends, it's been not such a good weekend. And since I'm so close to going home, there's a part of me that wants to cling to that departure date, to dream of the day when the frustrations of life here will be gone.
I was at a meeting yesterday, though, where someone told us to feel blessed in being allowed to live in Afghanistan. Not to act like a martyr and struggle through, but to wake every morning and thank God for sending me here. It reminds me of all those times I've been told to live in the moment and to not worry about tomorrow and to just rejoice in today... and how I'm I'm better at feeling like a martyr, even when it's rarely justified.
So I'm working on that. There's a part of me that remembers all the rougher days throughout this year, but also remembers the fact that they passed, as these days will too. I remember that the next few weeks are my last ones in Afghanistan, and if I wish them away, I don't get them back. There are so many things I love about being here, so many things I will incredibly miss about this country. Yes, there's dangers, and annoyances, and frustrations, but on the whole, it's been a wonderful year. During the rough times, we have to cling to the good times, remember the beautiful moments that give us strength. It's the rough times that make good times that much better, because without the valleys, there would be no peaks. And even within the rough times, there are blessings and reasons to be thankful. It just takes the right attitude to find them.