Day 11

The last day.  I woke up in the hotel and typed out the post about having my photos accepted into the museum exhibit and my “last day” post.  Then I got up and started my day.  When I ate dinner in the hotel restaurant the night before they way overcooked my steak so they gave me a coupon for breakfast which they totally screwed up as well.  After breakfast I packed my bags, loaded the bike and headed out for the Albuquerque Harley dealer to pick up a poker chip and see if they had any better gloves than what I was wearing.  They didn’t, so I got on the road.  I had enough gas to make it to Santa Fe and they had a Harley Davidson dealer as well, so I stopped there, got gas and scored at the dealership.  They had heated gloves that were compatible with my heated jacket liner.

“Uh, sir.  Are you sure you want those?”  “Yeah, why?”  “Well, it’s just that they are women’s.”  “Are they pink?”  “Well, no.”  “Sparkley?”  “No, they look just like the men’s gloves, just smaller.”  “Well, let me try them on then.”  I found a pair that mostly fit, they were a little tight, but they worked, so I got them.  Best part?  They were on the clearance table.

That made the ride a heckuva lot more comfortable.  I got back on the road for Denver, stopping along the way for various photos and to make adjustments to my gear to make myself warm or more comfortable.  I stopped in Trinidad and Colorado Springs for gas and at a gas station at some little town for gas-station pizza.  The whole trip, whenever I stopped for something on an Indian reservation someone would ask me for money, but I never had cash.  When I was getting off the interstate for lunch, someone at the bottom of the off-ramp asked for money.  Again, I didn’t have any but after saying “no” so many times, I felt guilty and got money out of the ATM when I got my pizza and gave it to him on the way back out of town.

I got home around 7 and unloaded the bike.  The house was still standing and was actually relatively neat.  So the kid did ok.  And the dog looked like he hadn’t been forgotten to be fed to many times.

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He was also excited to see me based off all the face-licks I got from him.

It was a good trip, something I’ll be remembering for years to come.  The best part of it?  The next morning my Dad’s pathology labs came back good.  So many great sights, opportunities to help my family out and friends.  Chances to meet some new people.

Happy Ending

A couple of months ago I posted this.

I’ve gotten pretty good at making candied bacon and it really makes me happy.  And of course I want to be obnoxious and share/rub my happiness in everyone’s face.  So I was making some a couple of weeks ago and took some photos of the process and posted them on Instagram without a lot of explanation.  I’m actually “friends” on social media with someone from that school, all that time ago.  She posted a comment on one of the pics about being curious to see what I was making and what the final result would look like.  So I sent her a video that someone else made that roughly matched my process on FB messenger and she said something about loving bacon and it making everything better.

I sent back a smart-alecky comment about how even thought it’d been decades since we’d hung out, that I knew I always liked her and she replied, confessing to having had a huge crush on me back in the day when we went to school together.  That rocked me back for multiple reasons.

It’s funny.  For the most part I like the way I am now, and the coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years.  They’ve gotten me through some really tough times in good humor.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve made changes to things, took the time to reflect and see what was still helpful, and what wasn’t, but that didn’t mean that I’d hated what I became at any point.  I just used painful situations to stimulate growth.

But there are some times in my past, particularly my childhood, that had become 2-dimensional in my memories.  I use them as stories to illustrate a point or as a punchline in a joke and have become numb to the true feelings in the moment, or blind to the context of the entire situation.

That school was the first time we’d moved that impacted me like that.  The moves before then were before I was in school, before I could be the “new-kid”.  The family was the nucleus of my social circle, so moving wasn’t impactful before then.  That move, that school was the first time I was bullied and mocked.  It was were I started developing those coping mechanisms, where I started retreating into myself (interesting question – they say that introvert/extrovert isn’t a binary condition, it’s a scale and everyone possesses some level of both, it’s just a question of where they land on the scale.  Is it nature or nurture?  My experiences would say it’s a little of both).  So I tell stories of that to explain why I’m me to people, focusing on some of those bad things that had happened.  But I’d forgotten that I’d made some good friends there, had some good times, learned things I loved that have become a part of me over time.

She was a really cute, shy girl back then.  I’d remembered her over the years, but I’d forgotten having a crush on her too, and forgotten the times we’d played together and had fun together back then.  I really appreciate her telling me that, and making me pause and remember the good times.

Music

Life is interesting sometimes.

My Dad is a Vietnam vet, but we didn’t talk much about it growing up.  He told funny Navy stories about basic training, or Thailand or the Philippines or Adak, Alaska, but he kind of skipped over Vietnam.  Even after I joined the military he skipped over it.  The closest he came was when he wanted me to read “A Rumor of War” because it was written by a guy on the same fire-base he was on in Vietnam at roughly the same time.  It wasn’t til I went to Afghanistan for the first time that he started opening up.  Then a little more after Iraq, and more yet after the last trip to Afghanistan.

A couple years later he sat at a table with a bunch of my veteran friends, and that was really where a lot of magic happened.  Hearing all of them tell tall tales started him going, and inter-service rivalry helped.  A couple things happened after that and now we’re in a good, supportive place of one another, as far as being vets go.  Different wars, different turf, same stories.

We’ve swapped books and movies over the years.  I made him sit and watch “Restrepo” a couple of years ago and it hit him the same as it did me.  He didn’t have to be THERE, he had been in the same spot years before.

He was a good father in his way.  There’s things that as his son I wish would’ve happened differently, but I’m still proud of him.  He did so much better than his father before him, and he tried, and he was there and that’s pretty much all you can ask for.  Never really heard him cuss growing up, a “damnit” or “shit” or “sonofabitch” when he whacked the snot out of his finger with a hammer, but other than that…  The only time I saw him drink was a can of beer with a neighbor on a front step or sharing a margarita with mom at a Mexican restaurant.  He’s loosened up with age, and now he’ll have a beer or two with dinner.  But I still have this incomplete picture of him as a kid.

He called me tonight and told me to listen to Joan Baez’s “A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall” sometime when I was mellow.  Said that a friend of his and him used to get shit faced together at night in Alaska in their room and listen to her album over and over.  Said he hadn’t listened to it in years, but came across it when he got sucked into the black-hole that is youtube tonight.  Said that listening to it, and putting him back in the mindset of post-Vietnam he could hear pieces of himself and me in it.  He told me I couldn’t listen to it in a roomful of people, or when I was excited.  He said maybe I needed to have a beer or two first.  I’ve never heard him talk like that.

So I will.  I’m curious.  Tonight’s not that night, but I will.

 

PS – I posted it before I saw the daily prompt, but since I titled it with the same word…