Thanks to a parent who never understood how to function in society with other people, I started my life over enough times during childhood to fuel a lifetime’s worth of death dreams. But the most altering reset was one I freely chose as an adult: moving to Afghanistan. As my first year in this country winds down, I can’t help believing that the girl who boarded that first connecting flight at JFK isn’t the same person who will depart Kabul, bound for the United States, next month. In my head, a gulf of a decade yawns between those two points in time. My mind lurches when I close my eyes and try to recall everything that has happened. The light from the hallway in my old house the morning of that first big attack and the blur of my housemate rushing to the gunbattle with his camera. Dancing at the last club in the city just before it closed. Beggar children with faces half-eaten by leishmaniasis tugging at my coat. Delicate indigo facial tattoos over the pale skin and freckles of a high school girl in Bamiyan. Arcade Fire’s ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ playing in M’s car after we were detained at gunpoint in the middle of nowhere. The no-going-back look in S’s eyes after that day on the Jalalabad-Torkham Highway when everything changed. The temperature in the room the exact moment I heard J was dead. The smell of the desert outside Herat at sunset. Tall soldiers patting me on the head, squeezing my shoulders and telling me I looked like a little doll. An electrical storm over the central highlands. Thousands of kites in the Ramazan sky.
I don’t want to hit reset; I want to preserve all of it —everything. Before the memories degrade.
How to begin?