Archive for May 12th, 2011

12
May
11

here today

I’m back home at my desk after a day away. Yesterday I accompanied my friend Michael to the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Big Spring, a five hours’ drive from Terlingua. He needed to go there for a couple hours of tests.

Michael’s partner Lynn had to work yesterday, and she did not want Michael to make the long roundtrip alone. Even though my services as a relief driver were not needed, I have the impression that my services as a listener were. Michael had a lot on his mind and we ended the day knowing one another much better than we did at the beginning of the day.

Michael is living out a life that I missed almost fifty years ago when I avoided military service during the Viet Nam War. He suffers extreme pain every day and night from his wartime injuries and is experiencing serious degenerative physical effects from them, as well. Four or five decades ago, Michael and I may have been on opposite sides of a huge rift in our society; today we find ourselves on the same side of the gulf which separates our little society out here from the big bad world out there. He’s one of the people I most love and admire out here,  one of my heroes.

“Do you think we would have been friends back then had our paths ever crossed?” I asked.

“I don’t think you would even have noticed me back then,” he said. “I was a pretty shy and retiring kid who always stayed in the background.”

I smiled as I recalled that Michael was a sniper in the Marines. In the background yes, but always assertive. Not a man to be ignored.

I like to think we both would have found ourselves talking in a quiet corner of a crowded party back then… but probably not. Michael and I lived very different lives. It’s unlikely we would ever have been invited to the same parties or even showed up at the same concerts. When Michael was getting shot at in Viet Nam, I was attending a May Day demonstration on the Mall in DC.

We needed the Big Bend to bring us together.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to Paul McCartney performing a song he wrote as a tribute to John Lennon, “Here Today”