Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019 Happiest New Year

Make Good Memories
Michael Sedano

January First is a day like any other day to that fellow sitting up there. All day, all night, every day, baking in searing heat or slapped in the face by icy winds, he stares out with clear vision at what's out there, immune to passing time and memory. Now, New Year’s Day 2019, time compels that he share what he saw out there.

I took that photograph on January 1, 1970, my last day of R&R in Tokyo. Tomorrow, Barbara flies away and I return to the Army. We are strong, survivors in the prime of life and we know it. 

Today, Barbara remembers we were in a march. There's magic in that verb, with its principal parts, the present, the past, the future, the wishing and willing voice, down to the root, viz.,

I remember.
I remembered.
I shall remember.
I would remember.
If only I could remember.

New Year’s Eve 1970, I remember we were the only gaijin couple in the nightclub where the comic ate us up like we ate that fancy steak. We understood only that one punch line, “Americans! You give me foreign aid!” We all laughed. Earlier that night, we marched. Barbara remembers.

We walked off the train into the orderly chaos forming on the streets for the “War Is Over” Yoko and John peace demonstration. Milling throngs spilled off sidewalks into the streets, slowing insistent traffic. Multiple lines of people snaked along sidewalks from five directions, joining to cross a pedestrian bridge that flooded ever more bodies into the mass on our side. With a mind of its own, a line phalanxed through the masses toward the distant concert hall. We couldn’t penetrate the crowd to get there.

Beating drums and ringing chimes mixed into the excited noise from densely packed bodies maneuvering for a place to stand. Dark came quickly throwing the scene into murky shadow. Staccato notes and rhythmic chanting filled the air. Snake-dancing lines cut swiftly through teeming disorder, their shiny black helmets weaving insistent paths through the masses, their stout wooden poles and flapping banners marking approach and direction.

Our excitement at being here comes to an abrupt halt when a squad of eight snake dancers cuts through the crowd at us. They form a semi-circle around Barbara and me. Combat boots stomp in place then halt, one, two. With practiced precision, eight black leather arms lift their poles high then slam the ends against the cement with a single loud menacing crack, “Whhacck!”

Barbara stands behind me against a streetlight post. My left hand behind me finds hers. The crowd gives us space, a murky ocean of black overcoats opens to look impassively at the unfolding spectacle. 

TheSnake-dancers leader steps forward to shout at me.

“Get out of Vietnam!”

I sweep my gaze across the squad of empty brown faces then look into the angry leader’s face. In the shadow of his helmet, his black eyes reflect the overhead light as we make eye contact. 

I point my right arm at him, my hand brandishes two fingers forming a V. I answer his challenge. 

 “Peace. Get out of Vietnam.” 

The leader nods, turns to his team, shouts a command. The poles sound their unblooded farewell as the squad executes left face and in the same motion, one by one, the shiny black helmets dance away into the crowd as swiftly as they’d appeared. “Whhacck!”

We had dinner reservations at the Club Non-Non so we split. We didn’t actually march, but Barbara remembers we marched.

I’m satisfied she has that memory. Who knows what’s out there that she will remember tomorrow? It's up to me to remember for both of us now, que Noh?

Gente, this is my 2019 New Year's Resolution, to make good memories.

I, and La Bloga, wish you great memories and boundless future.

1 comment:

Antonio SolisGomez said...

and wishing you and your wife the same-it's a bitter sweet piece em, beautifully written.