I was sitting here tonight finishing up some homework so I could enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. I found a random music channel on the computer to listen to music as I typed my report.
An hour or so into the report being beckoned on by the music playing in my headphones, I was subconsciously transported back to many years ago. The computer screen, the report, and Iowa were no where to be found. The 60 year old, heavyset man was magically a 23 year old tall thin soldier sitting at a table in the underground bar in the town of Anjong-Ri Korea drinking OB beer and eating deep fried pot stickers sold by a street vendor in the alleyway above.
Behind the bar was the owner and the bar maids who used to greet me with “Coop-Ssi” whenever I walked through the door. At the table with me were some of my friends and comrades in arms who had wandered in off the streets to escape the heat and humidity of the summer evenings in Korea. I have not seen most of them in close to 40 years but I can see them just as they appeared back then. I know some of them that are no longer walking patrol on this earth and others have moved on to who knows where.
We sit there drinking our beers and singing Walk Away, The Ashes, the Rain, and I, Live My Life Again, White Man, Black Man, and many more at the top of our lungs and frequently yell out for another round. We talk about anything that comes to mind: sports; scheduled leaves (vacations); politics; anything but work. We never spoke of work outside of the workplace and that was not only because it was forbidden, but we came here to escape work, not perpetuate it.
As the clock hits 11:50 PM, Mr. Kim the owner, yells “curfew! curfew! last call GI’s, time to go back to barracks!” We all throw back the bottles and empty the contents into our bellies and stand up to leave together. As we walk to the door the album ends and I am hurled back into 2015 and my brothers and sisters from so long ago all dissipate like the fog under a hot summer sun.
I sit here looking at the report on the computer screen in front of me. I have a lump in my throat as I think about the ones who have gone on to the eternal post and there are tears in my eyes. On the other side of the living room my wife sits there watching television not even noticing that I was gone for about an hour. I raise my bottle of water (the days of drinking liquid spirits have long past) and say a silent toast to those men and women who even though they had different last names and came from other parts of America, were my brothers and sisters as much as those who came from my parents.
Returning to the report seems senseless now as I doubt I could concentrate on it, so I searched the play list for other songs from that time to try and go back to spend just a little more time with my buddies, but it appears I am stuck in the present for now in a state of melancholy.
After staring at the computer for a while I fire up my WordPress account and begin to type this out. I don’t know why I decided to share this, but I am driven to do it. Maybe it will allow me to sleep tonight without those faces running through my brain all night.