Early one morning last July, my rifle company boarded a convoy of trucks leaving Nasiriyah, an Iraqi city 180 miles south of Baghdad, bound for Kuwait. After tossing my pack onto a truck, I looked back at members of the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police force, who were staying. They were made groggy and disgruntled by the early hour, and about to assume watch over the building we had shared for the past month.
Last Wednesday, I turned on the morning news and saw that that same building had become a charred skeleton. It was all chaos and smoke after a car or truck bomb exploded directly beneath the window where I had once slept. I listened to the grisly numbers: the dead, the missing, the wounded, Iraqis and Italians. But there were no faces, no names. I had no way of knowing who among them I may have known. I could only imagine that everyone I had known there had become a casualty. I was at a remove, trying to resume my life in New York