As I lay in bed this morning, the Star Spangled Banner ran through my head. Strange—I thought, but maybe being back in the United States and inundated with all that’s red, white, and blue as of late, struck up the band in my brain. Who knows? My next thought was about promises—logical I guess, for an election year. But then I thought about the promise I had made to myself to blog once a week and how I had already, after only five weeks, broken that promise. Hmmm…do you see a pattern? I had chosen hump day, Wednesday, not only because I always liked the hump reference, but also because by choosing a specific day, it held me accountable to a deadline. I figured Wednesdays are equally distant from both sides of the weekend—a day I can dedicate just for me—a day sandwiched between getting over or preparing for weekend things like socializing, exploring our new surroundings, or just catching up on the stuff I had put off all week like washing dogs, floors, or toilets.
So, there I was, snuggled beneath my warm down comforter, thinking about all kinds of random things, when I sighed—deeply—and then internally smacked myself upside the head. How could I lay there, obsessing over such trivialities when I was so blessed to be even lying in a warm bed and have an intact roof over my head?
Memories of growing up on Staten Island flooded my thoughts—surging about as quickly as hurricane Sandy had when it hit “The Island” just last week. The bleached, grey boardwalk of my childhood—the one that gave me splinters when I didn’t wear my flip-flops—is now gone—scattered like a giant’s discarded tooth picks—tossed onto foundations swept clean from raging winds and waves, where once, a school friend had invited me to spend the day at her family’s three-room Midland Beach bungalow. I remember being amazed at the amount of sand that had been allowed to pile up inside the house. Someone had actually started to build a sand castle under the sofa. Today, there is hardly a sign that the community ever existed at all—even the sand has been washed away.
As we all know, one thought leads to another, oftentimes hitched together only by some odd, miniscule common thread—in this case, Staten Island. The boy next door—tall, gangly, needle straight black hair, and his skin, smooth and white as a glass of milk—I can’t remember his name. I’m not sure I ever even knew it, but I can still picture him standing at the bus stop, every morning, alone. Even though, for two years, there were about eight of us waiting for the same bus, he was alone. Then, he was dead. Blown to bits, they said, mortar fire somewhere along the Mekong River—he still had an open coffin though. They stuffed his white gloves with large twigs, someone else said. His face was unscathed. He was eighteen.
At least twice a year I think about the boy who lived next door—on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day— which is why, I suppose, that today my meandering thoughts have ended up with him. This Sunday, 11-11-12 is Veteran’s Day—a day set aside for honoring and thanking those who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Even though I believe we are all capable of settling our differences amicably, I can still appreciate, respect, and honor anyone who has selflessly given of themselves, their time, and all too often, their sanity, life, and/or limb, so that I may enjoy the benefits of freedom.
Standing in terminal A at Nashville International Airport recently, I watched as one young soldier and his even younger wife hugged and kissed their fare-thee-wells at one gate, and a young military family was reunited at another. Tears flowed freely from all parties—fear, loss, sorrow, for two and over-the-top joy for the other three. It was the sight, however, of the smiling four-year-old girl, her arms wrapped around her daddy’s neck and the tears streaming down his clean-shaved reddened face, that really drove home the sacrifices our soldiers make for us.
Thank you—to all our military—past and present.
What about the future? We won’t need a Veteran’s Day, once we learn to live in peace and harmony with one another.
So, what do promises, hurricanes, and soldiers have in common? Me.
Any thoughts? Random or otherwise? Please share—I would love to hear from you.