I can’t help it: I’m excited about the upcoming Season Premier of Homeland, and what happens to Saul & Carrie and Cody on the run. I’ve been hooked by the scenes of Congressional Hearings. Why?
For those of you who don’t know, I come from a multigenerational agency family. Now confirmed and declassified, I relearned the lay of my childhood – what was spoken and unspoken – through watching the Iran Contra Hearings on television. The toys of my childhood – knickknacks and coins from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and sometimes Nicaragua – became puzzle pieces that snapped together in sharp focus with a father whose job as far as we were concerned was “making money.”
This fact reiterated so often I came to believe it was literally true. I believed that my father drove into Northern Virginia every day in a tie and suit to mint coins. I even told my old-Dominion private school teachers, as we went through the introduction ritual of my daddy’s a lawyer, my daddy’s a doctor, and in my case – woebegone nine year old-child who felt so out of place already – my daddy makes money.
But that was a long time ago, with my father bridging the gap between cloak and dagger anti-communism and modern anti-terrorism. My last memories of the “agency” belong to our travels together in my late-teens to the former iron-curtain as the walls tumbled down. I am a bit nostalgic for those times and a Red Army caravan broken down in Poland, windswept Trabants on the Autobahn, and diplomatic folklore of emergencies on the road to Berlin.
But I do not know the people or culture that comprise the Agency post- 9/11, so I can suspend disbelief and be entertained. When we watch Homeland, my husband and I often talk about who Cody really is – the transformation a person goes through in the darkness. Can you really understand that different person who walks out of the cage, the hole, the torture, the darkness? Who is that changed person who comes back? For this reason, I devoured A House in the Sky. Stayed up until 2 in the morning reading, which is a good bit better than staying up until 2 in the morning drinking.
Reading her descent into darkness and out required a full twenty four hours of trying to piece my world back together again after finishing. She wasn’t naïve, as so many have tried to paint her. She was freelance without true credentials, but she had traveled the world and done freelance reporting both from Baghdad’s red zone and Afghanistan. The only hotzone left for her was Somalia. The intended targets were the NatGeo reporters ahead of her that day. She used the same fixer as they did, stayed at the same hotel, and tried to get the same story that got them awards. I can’t judge her for her decision. It could have been my sister, who happily resides in a narco-terrorist state with her husband and two children.
The world is open, she writes in promotion materials, but it doesn’t promise safety. In Somalia, the hellhole of the world closed its net around her and subjected her to “unspeakable atrocities.” In the aftermath of this book, I realize the hardline fundamentalists are waging a war against women’s bodies. It is no different from the warped sexuality of Christian fundamentalism found in backswept mesas not so far from my present home. But it is all dangerous. It is all hell. And I’ve found through reading her putting her world back together, that – whether the rapes in India or Bangladesh – because don’t believe for a minute this book is not about bodily rape as well as the rape of the soul – that I will judge a religion creates by the world it creates. Unfortunately, hardline Islam can only flourish in violence and hell, and it creates more violence and hell. I really hope the good guys win this one.