Improvised engagement device

BAGHDAD — Sometimes a word enters my thoughts and I fixate on it. Obsess over it. Make brainlove to it. Five minutes ago the word “transmit” popped into my head. What a great word. Its definition and its phonetics. Two syllables: One broad, the other sharp, sounding like the funneling of something vast into a fine point. Trans. Mit. From the Middle English “transmitten” from the Latin “transmittere” — “mittere” meaning “to send,” “trans” meaning “across, over, beyond” from the verb “trare,” meaning “to cross.” To send across. To send over, and beyond. Transmit. For some reason — its use in military jargon? — the word made me think of a photo I took last month while riding in an MRAP vehicle in Anbar province. I was sardine’d between a plated window and the blond, spectacled, 23-year-old company medic. It was his first deployment. I looked at his ring and asked if he was married. Yes, he said. His wife’s 20. I asked about kids. Not yet, he said. They’ve got a decade or more to think about it, he said. All the time in the world, he said. I looked back and forth and back and forth between his silver ring and the rutted roadside and didn’t exhale until the world started to spin.

 Photo by Dan Zak

Photo by Dan Zak