I’ve heard of war nostalgia, but this is the first time I’ve seen it described in connection with Iraq. It reads like the confession of someone discovering he has a fetish — which, I guess, is what it is. He misses the war, is disgusted with himself for missing it, and keeps on missing it all the same. Good reading, needless to say.

I’ve been home from Iraq for more than a year, long enough for my time there to become a memory best forgotten for those who worried every day that I was gone. I could see their relief when I returned. Life could continue, with futures not so uncertain. But in quiet moments, their relief brought me guilt. Maybe they assume I was as overjoyed to be home as they were to have me home. Maybe they assume if I could do it over, I never would have gone. And maybe I wouldn’t have. But I miss Iraq. I miss the war. I miss war. And I have a very hard time understanding why…

For those who know, this is the open secret: War is exciting. Sometimes I was in awe of this, and sometimes I felt low and mean for loving it, but I loved it still. Even in its quiet moments, war is brighter, louder, brasher, more fun, more tragic, more wasteful. More. More of everything. And even then I knew I would someday miss it, this life so strange. Today the war has distilled to moments and feelings, and somewhere in these memories is the reason for the wistfulness…

After watching the Internet videos, I called some of my friends who are out of the Army now, and they miss the war, too. Wells very nearly died in Iraq. A sniper shot him in the head, surgeons cut out half of his skull — a story told in last April’s Esquire magazine — and he spent months in therapy, working back to his old self. Now he misses the high. “I don’t want to sound like a psychopath, but you’re like a god over there,” he says. “It might not be the best kind of adrenaline for you, but it’s a rush.” Before Iraq, he didn’t care for horror movies, and now he’s drawn to them. He watches them for the little thrill, the rush of being startled, if just for a moment.

McCarthy misses the war just the same. He saved Wells’s life, pressing a bandage over the hole in his head. Now he’s delivering construction materials to big hotel projects along the beach in South Carolina, waiting for a police department to process his application. “The monotony is killing me,” he told me, en route to deliver some rebar. “I want to go on a raid. I want something to blow up. I want something to change today.” He wants the unknown. “Anything can happen, and it does happen. And all of the sudden your world is shattered, and everything has changed. It’s living dangerously. You’re living on the edge. And you’re the baddest motherf**ker around.”

Any of our military readers willing to cop to similar feelings or has this guy’s adrenaline addiction taken an unusual, unhealthy turn?