In 1998 there was a Kurt Russel film simply titled “Soldier” which has one of the most honest on screen depictions of how veterans feel when interacting with civilians. It’s not the emotionally charged sexual attractions to another man’s wife played opposite the ever attractive Connie Nielsen. The scene I have in mind, is the Christmas party scene.
The camera work showing how all the sights, sounds, and implied smells, are affecting Kurt Russell, just overwhelming his brain to the point where he has to leave, and watch all the revelry from the roof, looking down. I’ve not seen a better depiction on screen, or in words, than that.
Today my wife, the long suffering saint, decided that we would visit two Christmas markets. The first was crowded, but we didn’t stay long, we kept moving pretty well. The second…
The second was beyond crowded. Like the final subway scene in “Crocodile Dundee” where people couldn’t get through crowded.
I’m not some highly trained killing machine always balanced on a razors edge of violence, the vast majority of my career has actually been spent more in the “nation building” and “non-lethal operations” side of military service. But crowded areas are where the suicide vests go off. Somehow letting in a million refugees from the middle east has spawned a completely unconnected increase in suicide bombings in Germany….
I did my best to go along, and not spoil it for my wife. I tried, I did my breathing exercises. I lost it one point where my wife was trying to buy me some roasted meat, which is a delicious Bavarian fest food, and we were just standing in line. I couldn’t stand still and I got her moving again to some place less crowded.
As we were leaving I felt so weak. I felt like I’d ruined it for her. I’m glad it was dark because despite taking almost an hour to drive home I still hadn’t been able to “center” myself. After patrolling through Iraq in 2009 I had a hard time with random trash on the side of the road. It took years to get comfortable driving, but eventually a new normal set in.
I’m not broken, just changed. I’m just different than the people who can enjoy being surrounded by other people. Different is ok, and the world needs people who think about security at crowded events as much as it needs people who are excited to go to crowded events. I held it together tonight long enough to get through it, and that’s good enough for tonight.