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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

I'd been wondering where Riverbend has been.

She hadn't posted since February, and when a blogger who lives in Baghdad doesn't post for awhile, you have to worry.

It turns out that part of the reason for Riverbend's extended silence is that she and her family are getting ready to leave Iraq.

So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees—the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare—stay and wait and try to survive.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else—as yet unknown—is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends ... And to what?

It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.

The decision of Riverbend's family to leave their country may be a small thing when looked at in isolation, but it's just another example of a decision that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis make every year. Meanwhile, Dubya and his supporters continue to claim that the occupation of Iraq is succeeding.

I wish Riverbend and her family a happy, peaceful life in whatever country they wind up in. And I hope that it's safe for them to return home sooner, rather than later.

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