Rachel's Last email exchange with her father
I find writing to you hard, but not thinking about you impossible. So I don't write, but I do bore my friends at lunch giving vent to my fear. I am afraid for you, and I think I have reason to be. But I'm also proud of you - very proud. But as Don Remfert says: I'd just as soon be proud of somebody else's daughter. That's how fathers are: we're hard wired not to want our children, no matter how old they are, no matter how brave they are, and no matter how much good they are doing, to be subject to so much threat or even witness to so much suffering. You may say (have said) that it is wrong for me to stick my head in the sand; but I say I am only trying to (or just wishing I could) stick your head in the sand - and that's different. Hard wired. Can't be changed on that aspect of the issue.
I love you, and please take care!
March 12, 2003
Hi papa, thank you for your email. I feel like sometimes I spend all my time propagandising mom, and assuming she'll pass stuff on to you, so you get neglected. Don't worry about me too much, right now I am most concerned that we are not being effective. I still don't feel particularly at risk. Rafah has seemed calmer lately, maybe because the military is preoccupied with incursions in the north - still shooting and house demolitions - one death this week that I know of, but not any larger incursions. Still can't say how this will change if and when war with Iraq comes.
Thanks also for stepping up your anti-war work. I know it is not easy to do, and probably much more difficult where you are than where I am. I am really interested in talking to the journalist in Charlotte - let me know what I can do to speed the process along.
I am trying to figure out what I'm going to do when I leave here, and when I'm going to leave. Right now I think I could stay until June, financially. I really don't want to move back to Olympia, but do need to go back there to clean my stuff out of the garage and talk about my experiences here. On the other hand, now that I've crossed the ocean I'm feeling a strong desire to try to stay across the ocean for some time. Considering trying to get English teaching jobs - would like to really buckle down and learn Arabic. Also got an invitation to visit Sweden on my way back, which I think I could do very cheaply. I would like to leave Rafah with a viable plan to return, too.
One of the core members of our group has to leave tomorrow, and watching her say goodbye to people is making me realise how difficult it will be. People here can't leave, so that complicates things. They also are pretty matter-of-fact about the fact that they don't know if they will be alive when we come back here. I really don't want to live with a lot of guilt about this place - being able to come and go so easily - and not going back. I think it is valuable to make commitments to places so I would like to be able to plan on coming back here within a year or so. Of all of these possibilities I think it's most likely that I will at least go to Sweden for a few weeks on my way back - I can change tickets and get a plane from Paris to Sweden and back for a total of around 150 bucks or so. I know I should really try to link up with the family in France but I really think that I'm not going to do that. I think I would just be angry the whole time and not much fun to be around. It also seems like a transition into too much opulence right now - I would feel a lot of class guilt the whole time as well.
Let me know if you have any ideas about what I should do with the rest of my life. I love you very much. If you want you can write to me as if I was on vacation at a camp on the big island of Hawaii learning to weave. One thing I do to make things easier here is to utterly retreat into fantasies that I am in a Hollywood movie or a sitcom starring Michael J Fox. So feel free to make something up and I'll be happy to play along.
Much love Poppy.