Sunday, May 04, 2008

Navy

All week, I fully intended to go to soccer. When I woke up on Saturday morning, though, I knew it wasn't going to happen. I felt guilty, but instead of leaving the house and enjoying the day, I finished a book. Then I sat on the couch and knit a hat for my new (as yet unnamed) great-nephew while watching a few episodes of a documentary on PBS about life on the aircraft carrier Nimitz.

I could not take my eyes off the documentary (except for the knitting). As you may recall, a while ago I dated a guy in the military. He was in the Navy. Never on a carrier as far as I know, but on ship duty at times. Also, a looong time ago, I went on a few dates with a guy who was serving on the Nimitz. At that time, the ship was home ported in Bremerton and when they had shore leave, the sailors would come to Seattle.

It's been a long time since I've told one of these stories...given that I'm moving soon, even if only temporarily, I'm in a sentimental mood. So, here we go.

It was 1991. The first Gulf War was underway. All of my friends were feeling unmoored by the war (seems almost humorous in retrospect), but it was the first time we felt personally connected to a war and it was scary. I had dated a guy in the Marine reserves (an entirely different and much longer story!) and I was even more at sea than my other friends because he'd been activated and sent to the gulf in January. Ever since I'd found out that he was gone, I was in a bit of a daze. I was writing to him regularly...and he wrote back. (Weird because we hadn't been in touch before he left.)

I was working at the movie theater...I didn't have another job, but I needed one. I'd taken a shift at the Guild 45th, not my usual theater. On the walk home, different from my usual route, I stopped into the Blue Moon Tavern for a beer. It was not typical for me to get a beer on my own but I probably didn't want to go home. I was living in a group house where I wasn't getting along with all the residents.

I sat at the bar and this guy started talking to me. And his friend. His friend was there too, but the guy, he was the "cute one" and he was the one interested in me. I'm sure I was pleased but I don't know how into it I was. The guy and his friend were in the Navy. We talked, he bought me another beer and then the friend drove me home. I must have given the guy my number because he called me and we went on a date.

Our date was in Pioneer Square. I think we just walked around. He told me stories. He'd been married and divorced...he was 23, just a year older than I! He had a little daughter. He was taken with her...talked about how flexible she was, how she would just plop into a runner's stretch with no problem.

He also told me about a fistfight he'd gotten into with a shipmate. And how it caused them to be friends. That's always stuck with me because I never thought that mutual respect born of fistfights existed outside the movies.

I reluctantly took him home because it was too late for him to catch the ferry. Not my plan, but it could well have been his. He refused to sleep on the sofa. I let him sleep in my bed. We did kiss, but I wouldn't take any clothing off. I wasn't into it. I was thinking about the marine. The guy didn't do anything wrong, he didn't even keep me up all night, but he did cross a line and it caused me to be cross with him.

After that, I was done. He left in the morning and I didn't agree to another date.

He called a week or two later to wish me a happy birthday. (In my websearch for the Nimitz, I see that it left on February 25, the day before my birthday.) I was surprised that he remembered it was my birthday. He was also calling to say they were leaving. He said, "Will you write to me?"

I sighed. I was overwhelmed, I said, "You know, I can't really handle this. I told you, I'm already writing to someone in the military. I'm already doing that. That's all I can do."

He said, "What if I wrote to you? What would you do if I wrote to you?"

I said, "I would write back."

He said happy birthday again and I thanked him.

After we hung up, I never heard from him again. I don't remember his name or what he looked like. He never wrote.

The marine, now, that's a story I will never write on the blog. Good thing I'm going to Paris.

Grateful for: my memories.

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