Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Like Any Other Day, Except...

Memory, Memories

DD-214 Detail

Michael Sedano

Wednesday, January 15, 1969 finally got here. "Here" being an apartment in Isla Vista where Barbara would live, finish her degree and teaching credential. I would be up at Ft. Ord, becoming a soldier like everyone else who took their chances when it was their turn. When you boarded that bus, you were probably going to Vietnam, pendejo. I didn't worry.

That morning I wasn't thinking going to war, I was thinking I needed to get to the bus station on time and get this thing started. I laugh you can see my heel marks in the cement, to this day, where they dragged me kicking and screaming onto that Greyhound. Truth is, someone called my name, I said "Yo," and stepped onto the carriage. 

I found a window seat next to where Barbara stood. She'd dressed in her brown gabardine jumpsuit, an expensive tog, even with Barbara's Robinson's Department Store employee discount. It was special and she felt good in it. Now I think on it, she must have bought it to wear today. 52 years it takes me, sheesh. 

I feel calmed, seeing her in her happy clothes standing outside at my window. Barbara's smiling, animatedly speaking words I do not hear, not through the glass, the chatter of my fellow passengers, and the diesel motor building up power. 

The bus fills with bodies, air brakes hiss, dually wheels roll forward, the bus pulls away, and Barbara loses all her bravado. She buries her face in her hands, her body convulses silently in sobs. She is alone now on the pavement. The bus turns onto the street and I lose sight of Barbara. I have to accept I cannot comfort her now and I enter my world.

DD-214 weapons qualifications, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.
Rad operator, for sure.

So I got my ass drafted 52 years ago this week. 

It wasn't the Air Force, but off I went, into the wild green yonder. Back then, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, my mind grew increasingly numb. I wasn't thinking of going to war or  dying. I was thinking Barbara would be alone, on her own. 

Barbara's alone again, on her own. I cannot offer comfort, only protection. I am standing next to her, in the parking lot, outside, looking through a deep tinted window. There's Barbara, heading off to her unknowns. I shall not lose sight of her.

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