Hard to define.

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Deiss, my brother from the Corps. 

Thirteen weeks. Thirteen long weeks to be reborn, reshaped and re-purposed into something new. Thirteen weeks to break you down and recreate each of us as one. One team.

Every second was purposeful but impossible to see that from the inside. They taught us to shave, how to make a proper bed, methods to shine shoes and boots. Everything was by the numbers as if we never had those experiences before. No assumptions, we were all treated exactly the same.

This experience shapes you for the rest of your life. It somehow bonds you to people in ways that your blood relatives might not be able to fully understand.

The countless months that follow are equally bonding. Mashed together, it seems like you have been together for years. All walks of life, backgrounds rarely matter. The might have been the best part of the experience, no one really cared what your background was. Rich, poor, race, religion or education, no one cared. It wasn’t a rose garden but it wasn’t exactly like the outside world. It was a world that only can be seen from the inside.

I was fortunate to have Deiss come up to visit while I was on vacation. It is great to reconnect to my past life. Telling old stories felt like it was yesterday. Reconnect to something that forged me into who I am today.

It is hard to define what makes the connection strong, why we could pick up like it was just yesterday we were on ship or the pier. Not sure how it all works but I am so thankful for all of it. Thankful for Deiss.

alice

alice

I hoisted this pack on today, heavier now with books and a few gifts. I jumped a bit while I tightened the shoulder straps. Thought nothing of it until I reached Starbucks.

Once I ordered I searched out a seat. I took my left hand and loosed the strap. Something so familiar about it. The zzzzzzziiiippp sound of the nylon brought me right back and reminded me of alice. Alice isn’t a person but the name of the pack we carried in the Corps. Well… we never carried them, we humped them. Humping the term we used for hiking. No clue where it originated from but it just stuck. humping alice 20+ miles creates pain like no other. Going downhill was always the worst. I’d take walking up those endless hills of the jungle any day over walking down just one hill.

There were times when the pack was so heavy little guys needed help standing. I no longer wonder why my hips hurt today. My lower back hurts. They say it is age but we know it was alice, still crushing us to this day.

It seem seems I live in the now and past simultaneously.

What goes up.

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When I was younger any trip that included a hotel was the best. I’m pretty sure that you could have left me in that place and I would have been super happy. Not sure why but I always loved them. From HoJo to a Best Western, they were all better than Disney. Maybe it was eating a restaurant or the fact that every single hotel had a TV that worked, something we did not always have.

Most of these trips happened because of my grandparents. They would pick us up in St. Paul and drive us to Athens. This trip included two nights in predetermined hotels and outlet shops. Gramps always had the route mapped out, lunch stops included. Grandma had the outlets planned so she could buy us clothes, but mostly church appropriate shorts. I still can’t believe my grandma let me wear shorts to church. Maybe it was because it was a billion degrees in Georgia or it was to quiet the complaining. I never liked going to church.

I am fortunate enough to be in Texas for a conference and staying in another hotel. The image above is the keypad in the elevator. I stepped into the elevator upon arrival and stopped cold. I was choked up, even now. The last time I was in an elevator was at the hospital saying goodbye. My brother, only 48, died suddenly. Still no reason. Said it was natural causes.

Still raw from all the emotions. Makes me think of baggage and how much we all carry.  I wonder how many people I work with see things like a keypad and get swept away. Maybe the smells from school lunch brings a student crashing back into some memory.

Not sure how we can look for for these signs. Maybe just being aware, observant and ready to help. Help with space and support.

*I wrote this without editing and in one shot. I’m sure there are errors but I can’t go back at this time. Harder than I thought to relive.

Curse Words

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I saw this cloud today and thought of you. The last few times we were together all I could do was curse. I think the only person who could of interpreted what I was saying would have been Crow.

All those four letter words just flowed, that was all I could say.  Those utterances had strong meanings, they were the things we never said.

Only a Marine could have interpreted what I was saying but somehow I’m sure you understood.

The Hill

the hill

Another memory.

I can’t recall who was there but it was a hot summer night. I think there was maybe four of us sitting on that hill just talking and drinking beer.

I can’t recall what we talked about but we sat there for hours.

My brother had this thing about telling stories. He would start down a path and he would spend ten minutes telling you about that path before ever stepping foot on it. Many of the stories where like that, never really knowing where you would end up.

I have to admit, there were times I felt like yelling “GET TO THE POINT!” but I never did. Sometimes I was at the end of the story already, having heard it before, just waiting for it to be finished. I think he liked telling it, reliving it in his own head.

I would give anything to hear another rambling tale.

I had to admit something today.

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I had to admit something to my brother today. Back when we were teenagers I used to sneak into his room when he was at work and listen to his records. I would even record some of the tracks onto cassettes to listen to on my Walkman. I knew if I ever got caught that would be the end of me. I can only remember some of the tracks, something about James Bond living down the street by the New York Dolls or maybe Toy Dolls. Some punk band from the UK. It was like pure bliss, listening to your albums was the best.

Once I shared that all kinds of other stories started to pour out. There was this time we were in Florida with the grandparents. That night NASA was shoot some satellite into space and we were going to be able to see the light of the rocket, nothing was more exciting than that. I’m thinking I was maybe in 4th or 5th grade and my brother was two years ahead of me in school. Well at some point PT wandered away down the beach to get a better look. My grandparents were beside themselves with worry. My grandmother whisked me away to the hotel room while my grandfather, a former FBI agent, ran some search grids. I never got to see the rocket. Maybe an hour or so later PT came wandering back into the room, not a care in the world. I was never worried, he is the smartest person I had ever met, I knew he would be fine. I had to laugh, that wandering away to get a better look sounds a lot like my son. I was super jealous that he got to see the rocket blast off.

That story brought me back to spending time in Wisconsin. Our gramps kept a small patch of dirt for us to play in. We would spend hours with a set of garden tools digging and making tunnels. Once gramps stepped on our tunnel thinking it would support him but it quickly collapsed. I’m not sure why that story stuck with us for so long but it did. We also had gramps scope out the tallest hills he could find and drive us up and down them when we were in town. It scared us to death but always wanted to do it over and over again.

Then there was that time when I visited in college. I was only in high school but we still sat up drinking beer and listening to Metallica, Master of Puppets. That was life changing, if this was college I wanted in!

I remember when you called me when I was in the Corps to tell me you just had your son, Patrick. I had just been up all night… uh… sitting on a hill watching the base burn with Crow. After that went on a 12 mile run and you called me. That was a pretty sweet thing to start the day with.

It breaks my heart to have to say goodbye to you today.

I love you and miss you dearly.