HEROES

I am captured in august company. There are 73 living recipients of the CMH. I appear here with three…and a fourth, Florent Groberg was also present at this event for Homes For Heroes. Some of you may recognize Col. Jack Jacobs on the left, now an ABC military analyst. I was stunned to discover that Jack is actually younger than I.

While waiting for the start we traded some pretty good war stories…and giggled somewhat at the circumstances of the single major combat jump of Vietnam by the 173rd on 22 Feb 1967. Life Magazine was on the ground taking photos of the troopers landing. ;)

The golf today was great fun, I drank at least 5 liters of fluid on the course and I’m thinking about peeing sometime soon…but no pressure. Goodness, rarely…but damned rarely, I strike the ball with the authority of old. It’s time for my transition to OGG. (Old Guy Golf)CMH

FRIDAY IN THE PARK

Some of you may remember the writings of Carlos Castaneda and his mystical tales. That will be our subtext. BB and I arrived at the park after midnight. The moon was not an issue and tho sprinklers occasionally came on and off, we were never threatened. I had BB in his harness, carried him, my backpack and a camp chair out to a clearing and began to set up camp.

He immediately defeated his harness and was free. I swear he’s like fucking Houdini and handcuffs. I dropped my backpack and deliberately approached him, hoping he would not bolt into the darkness. He patiently allowed me to lift him up and carry him back to our site. I fussed with the harness for more than five minutes, finally surrendering to the reality that it was not a safeguard. I sat in a modified lotus, holding him in my lap and searching the northeast sky for my first streak of light.

A man approached us in the darkness. I felt no fear or danger; however I was aware that only my vigilance and BB calmness stood between tranquility and the panic of a pet on the loose. He stopped a respectful distance away and after a few moments spoke to us.
“Good evening.” I returned his greeting…and at some point he squatted down, facing us…almost as tho there was a fire between us…but the darkness was total. And we began to speak.
(My computer just been restarted. I fully expected nothing to remain of what I had written, fully a page or more is missing. But this opening was autosaved. Curious.)

So…I learned his name was Ernesto, that he was Azteca, had come to America years ago from a Mexican province. That he worked as a handyman, had three sons, all of whom he had saved money for to bring here. They were all now legal. He believed that he had visions, he believed in reincarnation but not time travel. We spoke of shamanism and spirit guides. I spoke of the Maya and the Inca. We spoke of the mysteries of the universe, the struggle of immigrants, the nature of war, the nature of spirituality. We exchanged stories of being “out of body”; his from an illness and I during my first and final day in combat. He was a Christian (as I type this, a soliciting phone call comes in for exterior home work. The callers name is Chris. I hang up…but smile.) Ernesto seemed devout, with strong convictions. I had earlier offered tobacco, he then refused but now accepted a Pall Mall. We sat and smoked. (Throughout all this time, BB sat patiently in my lap. He was not restless, he was almost somnolent but clearly still awake.)

It had been some time since I had looked up at the sky. Jupiter might have fallen for all I knew…but this conversation seemed more important. I returned to our thoughts on reincarnation, asking if he remembered any of his past lives. Ernesto had mentioned earlier that he believed there was a reason we had met tonight, that it had been foretold. After a moments consideration, I asked if he would be offended if I smoked some pot, asked if he’d be willing to join me. He agreed. I mentioned my past times of communing in nature, often on mescaline. We fired up the joint and he insisted he eschewed any other forms of mind alteration but that pot was acceptable.

I then began to press Ernesto on his resistance to time travel. We agreed that he had existed before. So I posed this theory: What if you were somehow able to return to one of those past lives…but still retained a semblance of Ernesto’s consciousness? You would then in a sense, exist in the past, yes? Ernesto rolled back on his side, entirely consumed by the thought. He then slowly began to chuckle with delight. “Yes! Yes, I would! So it IS possible!” He was almost like a child in his wonder, so delighted with the clarity of that hypothesis.
I reached for my camera, asked if I might take a photo of him and then asked him to take a few of BB and I. BB allowed me to sit him up and pose…and when we were done, returned to his calm resting on my thigh. Ernesto rose to present something to me. I couldn’t make it out in the dark so I reached for my camera to get a little light. It was his drivers license. I asked him why he had shown this to me. His answer was so that I knew he did not lie. I told him I had not doubted his word and he walked away to relieve himself.

I sat there in the dark, holding his license and pondering what that might mean. It was only hours later that I remembered my drama earlier that afternoon, having searched frantically for my own missing drivers license. But not at that moment.

Ernesto returned and I realized that I was both tired and rather stiff. I begin to rise and gather my things. I was now pretty clumsy, weary, needing to secure BB, throw my backpack over my shoulder and pick up the folding chair which I had never deployed. He had a strong pencil flashlight, which he used to scan the ground, pointing out my camera and lighter still in the grass. I thanked him, wished him good fortune and began the walk back to my car.
BB allowed me to open the door and put him in. He’s never been a happy passenger because trips in the car generally mean a ride to the vet and probably shots. But tonite, he was very calm. I got everything inside, settled into my seat and pushed the ignition. A light came on, asking me to hold my key closer to the button. Huh?

I tried twice more with no success. WTF? Problem Solving 101. This suggests that I do not have my car key in my possession. It is either out there in the darkness…or I never had it, left home without it. Apparently near enough in my garage to start my car…but no longer. Despite this logic I re-searched my knapsack and now noticed that my wallet was missing. Huh? Could I have also left that at home?

OK. I grabbed my own flashlight, carefully let myself out the door, did NOT lock it and retraced my steps back into the park. It’s now around 2:10 AM, the park seems deserted. I reach our resting place and scan the ground deliberately, thoroughly. Nothing. As I walk back to my car, I ponder my options. I am about two miles from my home. I have my garage door opener and my home keys. I can either try to walk home carrying BB, who must by now be thirsty, always hungry and restless….or I can leave him in the car, unlocked, walk home alone, get my backup keys and return. Had I mentioned that I am now tired? Had a great yoga class earlier but my legs are weary and I am wearing moccasins. Comfortable but not exactly walking shoes. Much as I hate to leave BB, I am concerned that while carrying him, a passing motorcycle or barking dog or whatever might startle him, then I lose control of him and then possibly I lose him forever. I remembered earlier having told Ernesto how very dear BB is to me, that I would not much fancy my life without him.

I decide the risk/reward favors me walking alone and returning as soon as possible. I grab my backpack, a final scruffle for BB and set off. It is now 2:30 AM. I walk. Two miles is really not that far…tho my feet are soon aching from the lack of support. As I walk I am praying that I will find my primary keys sitting on a counter or in a pocket…but knowing I do have backup keys. There is little traffic. I just walk. And I think that this is the most elemental, fundamental reality of any human endeavor. Just putting one foot in front of the other. Step by step.
There are a LOT of steps in my journey but eventually I turn down my alley, reach my garage and open it. I move quickly upstairs, search briefly for my primary keys and then bound upstairs for my backups. I have them, I take a swig of water, down a shot of rum, exit thru my garage and close it. Now the walk back. I now know how long it is. I’ve changed into practical walking shoes. My feet are tender. I liken this to walking nine holes…but never swinging a golf club. ;) My thoughts now are on BB. Is he ok, is he cool? Anyone with my keys could enter, start my car and drive away. Have I exposed my companion to such a danger? I don’t jog or walk faster. I cannot any longer, physically…and I am really tired. I think about people shot at in the night by passing cars, I wonder about how much of what I am now enduring is imaginary, real or mystical…and what is the lesson, Don Juan?

Eventually…and I fucking mean eventually, I reach my Acura and open the door. BB is cool, Daddy is back. I turn on the engine, slowly pull out and drive us home. Once in my garage, I let BB out and open the door to upstairs. I give him fresh water and some bits of round beef. He seems to be OK. I’m not sure that I am, tho.
I have the first blister on my foot I’ve created in decades. My legs are heavy. My primary keys seem to have disappeared…but I have found my wallet. It’s in an unfamiliar pouch in my knapsack…so that’s good. And I have my camera. In the morning I can check to see whether there are pictures in it, did last nite really happen.

ErnestoDream Team (1)There are…and it did.

VFT Music. Molly Malones 10 August 2016

Tonite was our monthly musical gathering – VFT – at Molly Malones. My heart has been heavy of late. I know that we are ALL losing people dear to us and on a daily basis. Yet I also knew that I needed to go tonite. Whether or not I played, I needed the nurture that being around veterans IS to me. I wanted to share Jim’s words with people who could appreciate the kind of man Jim Northrup was: A Marine veteran of combat who recovered and resumed his life among his friends and family, continuing to be of service. The necklace I wore tonite and often wear proudly was a gift from Jim Northrup

Tonite was our largest gathering yet. Kudos, Michael Bee. Shannon Corbeil broke both her and the Air Force’s cherry by participating. ;) Today was her birthday and she spoke truth, “This is my first time. I’m told this is a safe place.”

Quite right, Shannon. It is just that…for all of us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Xr4vimz_x4&feature=youtu.beMolly HeartArnold and I