Sunday, February 10, 2008


Got a buddy that calls me every so often. We actually met a few years back on one of my Christmas to New Years vacations to Puerto Rico. He was there based in the military during a time of PEACE. You know, before Bush was in office. Not knowing anyone on the island personally, he became my tour guide for all things fun to do in Puerto Rico. On my own, I would explore the area and talk to the people, get the history of the island as well as experience how my African roots extended deep into the mix of Spanish and Native American cultures. The island is a photographer’s paradise. I would go from visiting the Rain Forrest to the Camuy Caves, Old San Juan and the Yachting Marinas, in one day, I had gone through 40 rolls of film (this was before digital cameras were the standard) just walking along the beaches and taking pictures of the local landscape and people. The reason why I would pick the last week of December and early January was that the number of tourist was practically non-existence.

I recall one visit to Puerto Rico where I decided to relax on the beach with a good book and music. It was amazing how I could always find a spot and one would be around for at least 400 feet or more. The waves were a little high and the water not as warm as the summer months, but in my mind, it was the closest I got to having my own Private Beach. As people walked by, I’d get the occasional wave and a, “¿Hola, se divierte usted.” Of course my Spanish not being as good as it needed to be, I’d nod and smile and go back to my private moments. So once I had my fill of solitude it would be great for my host to swing by and pick me up for a night out on the town.

We kept in touch for years, mostly through Internet and e-mails. Unlike most people in a person’s life, this friendship sustained the tests to time. His being in the military back then, our communications were more like summer camp and college updates. The e-mails were more comedic if anything. Life on a military base can be as sophomoric as a college dorm and the personality clashes, pure Soap Operas in the making and yet I looked forward to hearing them all.

When he would come home to the United States, we’d get on the phone and trade stories about bad dates in Puerto Rico, money and family issues. He’d ask me about the Big Bad City and I would rag on his Country Mouse Hometown. It wouldn’t be until years later that he’s make his way North and we’d hang and bond again with me being the tour guide. Then Iraq jumped off and our relationship made for a drastic turn. Now when we talked, we unconsciously avoid topics about war or his getting hurt. I even found myself not talking about the politics (which is NOT ME AT ALL) but we did keep that countdown for when he was coming back. Once my Boy sent me a handwritten letter, which I read over and over about his stint in Iraq. There were some wild situations happening there, the stuff that the News wouldn’t and couldn’t cover. Some of it was shocking but most of it was funny. Almost Private Benjamin funny. I wrote back in hand (which I hadn’t done in years) about my appreciation for his service and prayers for his safe return.

When he came home, I was relieved that he was one of the survivors of the madness in the Middle East. Unlike some of the people I met after coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq, my friend was able to keep his RIGHT STATE OF MIND. It was not mentally scared by the death and the killing, mangled bodies and destruction in the towns and that alone I felt we were both blessed.

Out of respect I did not prod into his experiences, I just wanted him to share what he wanted in his own time, which he did. Several months later, he was shipped out again but to Korea. Again, our communications were tied to Internet and e-mails and we kept it up until the last days of his leave. I had invited him to stay at my place before he went home. I sensed that he needed some down time before being bombarded with home. He stated at my place for a few days and he was slightly different. He was worn, drained and tired. He was older in ways that made me a little heartbroken because this stint drained his spirit. The first time was a drain of his energy but this one was an aging. His whole stay with me was made up of sleeping and watching television and a lot of silence. Oh yeah, a ton of junk food was eaten too. I got the sense my friend was content to just be on safe soil. So I abided that and I was happy for him to be in a state of healing in my home.

Months would go by and he when back to set up his life. Re-arranged some of his priorities. I even found that he had gotten married. We talked on the phone a few times but not as often like we use to. Not as many e-mails but we always knew in a pinch that we could call on the other for a good chat. Today, I got a call and I was surprised and excited. Since I am going through a few personal issues myself, I felt the timing was great. We stared talking and just before I start in with my story I hear, “I just wanted to tell you that I’ll be shipping out to Iraq again.

I got a little low in my emotions when I heard this. I mean I saw how he has changed over the years since our time in Puerto Rico. I have seen how War and the Military has made an impression upon my friend. I also know that there is a possibility I may not have him in my life with what is going on over there in Iraq. So I know I can’t let that feeling shine through with my response because the last think someone wants to hear is my objections and political rants.

Again. Man, how long they got you this time?” I said.

They going to have me up to 15 months this trip.” my Boy replies back.

15! That’s right they changed the tour duty length. What are you going to be doing now?” I explode before I catch myself and get calm.

He begins to detail what his role would be but this time he tells me, he won’t have access to any Internet and isolated. No e-mails or anything. Then he goes on to tell me he is getting divorced after a year. So I listen and he goes on and on and the more I listen I just say to myself, “He should not even be over there period.”

We don’t talk long because I know he has to make more calls and prepare for his shipping out. I never spoke up about my personal issues. They paled in comparison to having to commit your life to an Ideology (especially one that conflicts with mine personally).

I go back to my old prayer book. I had faith in it to keep my friend MARCO safe. I still have faith that it will bring him back again whole and in one piece. And regardless of who gets in office, a candidate of EXPERIENCE or CHANGE, you best to believe I will hold them to their promises because this is my friend you are playing Political Games with.

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