Monday, February 05, 2007

Deja L'aimee

The Super Bowl kickoff was at 0225 local time, so our chain of command gave us the morning off. I didn't watch the game--I was in bed by 10--so I got up about an hour ago. The company area is deserted, and for once I took the rare opportunity to enjoy a cup of strong coffee with my breakfast at the DFAC. I slept well, but fitfully last night.

I dreamt again. The dreams came to me as flashbacks, hitting me all at once. I was in all places simultaneously. I walked the beaches of Port Austin on a quiet dawn in April. I smoked a cigarette and drank coffee with Anne while sitting on a park bench back on Mackinac Island. I wandered the deserted streets of Marquette, enjoying the frost-laced silence of a December morning. I dreamt of staring out at the Superior sunrise from an empty parking garage downtown. I used to flee there when I needed a better view on things; when I needed a bit of fresh air and maybe some clarity.

I used to wake
Hours before the world
Just to watch her sleep.

Two whole mornings in a row, all to myself. The feeling is disorienting, especially after waking up from dreams as intense as the ones from last night. I feel like I'm having deja vu in reverse; the person I was more real than the person, the place I'm in today. I don't know how to explain it, but the result is, right now, that I'm feeling a powerful sense of mixed enervation and melancholy. Bittersweet, I suppose, would be the term. Yes, I feel bittersweet.

I dreamt of Port Austin. I dreamt of Marquette. I dreamt of Escanaba, and the cafe up the street from my shelter. I dreamt of Frankfurt and Heidelberg and a thousand early conversations over post-coital breakfast. I dreamt of my old friends--Ackerman, Sarah, Muzz. I dreamt of my family--father, mother in for knee surgery next week, and sister Marie; barely nineteen and no idea where she's going. I understand her best for that. I dreamt of the women I've loved--Teresa, Maria, Anne--the three Greatest, my Sisters of Mercy, who taught me more of sacrifice and compassion than the Army ever could. And suddenly, I realize that I'm not dreaming or feeling things already seen, but rather things already loved.

For many, the military is where people go to see both the world and themselves, where they go to feel more alive. For many, it's an awakening. Not for me. More and more lately, as my leave approaches, I feel as though I've slept, and am just now waking. And as my eyes open, I see now that there is precious little that the Army can teach me which the blessings of my life have not already done.

And when I realize this, I realize that, if all things were equal, and I were told tomorrow that my debt was paid in full, I would walk away from all of this, and never again look back. The road might be harder, certainly, but what of worth did not come with difficulty? Would the Army propel me to something better than I already am? Would I be less for returning to my roots? I'm not sure any more. The only thing I am sure of today, is this: the life of an ordinary man, and the myriad troubles and beauties it brings, are an unvarnished gift whose true worth the Uninitiated can never understand.

But I would wait
Centuries more yet
Just to see you wake.


Anonymous JollyRoger said...

My mind often wanders to Manistique and the little red lighthouse, or to Munising, and the magnificent beach there, or any number of places on the western Keweenaw Peninsula. Even the ship graveyard at Escanaba is an interesting place to prowl and ponder.

I wish to go across the Mackinac Bridge and never venture south again. I still haven't figured out how to make it happen.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anne said...

Jollyroger, just run man. If you can just handle being dirt broke, you can always get by in the UP. (though may I recommend coming armed with a snowshovel and lots of dryer sheets for the bugs)

God, I miss home sometimes.

9:34 PM  
Blogger iamcoyote said...

I grew up around the Grand Haven/Muskegon areas, and I can attest to the bugs and the snow. But there's nothing like a thunderstorm over Lake Michigan in the summertime. I once saw red lightning, the only time I've ever seen it in my life! I remember just about every kid in the neighborhood got new ice skates at xmas; they used to water down the basket ball courts at the local school in wintertime so the kids had an ice rink all season. Wonderful!

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you've gone without physical injury over there.

My son heads there in June.

I'm not happy about this at all.

I can only hope he learns this one lesson...ordinary life is beautiful.


7:40 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...


I consider trying my luck often-hell, I headed up in December. Sault Ste Marie, Marquette, and Manistique on the way out. Whitefish Point is frigging magnificent this time of year-cold be damned. Watching the sun fade behind the big red lighthouse in Marquette is a frequent pastime of mine, all seasons. The cold and the summertime flies are more than offset (IMHO) by the nature and the lack of people.

I wish there was something besides prisons to do for a living there. I don't think I'd make enough working at Glen's even for the UP...

10:50 PM  
Anonymous OZinWisconsin said...

My maternal grandparents were from Escanaba. I did 7 in teh army 30 yrs ago. No combat but it turned into a direct tiring trudge towards freedom. You'll get there. Good luck.

makin' beer in La Crosse since '76.

3:13 AM  

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