A couple of weekends ago I met a couple of USAF Academy grads. Both were still in Active Duty. One was an F-16 pilot trainer who had turned down flying F-22's because his Active Duty wife was pregnant with their first child. One of the first things he asked me upon finding I had separated was, "Do you miss it?"
"It permeates my subconscious." I told him.
I dream about it. Often. Sometime more often than others. And I haven't had one of those dreams for a very long time.
Perhaps it was the glimpse of North Korea during the video-preview execution of the fatal "Iron Lotus" maneuver in Blades of Glory I stayed up late to watch with my wife. Perhaps it was a guy trying to sell me military duffel bags at a garage sale yesterday. Perhaps it was the gentleman Friday who, after it had somehow come up, asked me, "What were you doing in Korea?" I responded, "Combating communism."
"You don't look old enough." He said.
"I wasn't in the war!" I exclaimed.
I don't know. What I do know, is that I had one of my famous dreams - the ones where even though I may awake in the night (as I did twice last night) the moment I fall back asleep, I pick right back up where I was in the dream. Seamless.
I was in Korea again. For my third tour. And three tours of Korea gets old...
Unlike when I was 25 and had volunteered for Korea to complete my worldwide tour, this time I was 38. And tired of moving and traveling. I was back at the dormitory - everyone there was much younger than I was, and all I wanted to do was sleep. As has been a recent recurrence, I was busy unpacking my 1968 Dodge Coronet 440 which was loaded from top-to-bottom, left-to-right, front-to-back with my kit. I made many trips back and forth. Those of you familiar with my dreams will recognize instantly that the dormitory was maze-like, taking hours to traverse the inner hallways, dead-ends, stairs and in the case of last night, an elevator which actually didn't stop at the floor you needed to be on. And it moved fast. I threw my bag and leapt up to the landing as it flew past my floor. As I hang there struggling, hoping I make it up before the elevator comes screaming back up, I'm thinking, "I'm too old for this." I finally make it to my room, and discover that drax0r is my roommate. That's cool. There was only one bed, so he left that for me (probably because I'm 8 years older than he is) and set up his cot for himself. Very sweet of him. The other door in the room leads to a common room, where a group of people are lounging around watching television loudly, and I can't get the door to close properly. This also, is no surprise.
Later, a group of us (including drax0r) are walking around East Dallas where I grew up (except its Korea) taking in the shops and activities. Korea is where I started chewing, and I haven't chewed in three weeks or so and I'm thinking it sure would be easy to start again now that I was here - but what would I tell the wife? I mean, she'd understand, but aren't I stronger than that now? I'm thinking I'll pick up a bunch of stuff that I'd like since Korea is fantastic for shopping. I chose a ballcap which read "Korea -07" and had my name embroidered on it, but it looked more like a NASCAR hat than the one I currently have. This one had red and orange flames on a black background. Mine felt...old. Outdated. Then I thought I'd get one with each of my tour dates on them. I think that's when I realized that I didn't actually already serve two tours. I knew that I'd really only been there once, and that it must've been a previous dream in which was so lifelike and real I thought it was my second tour. Still and all - this one felt like three. I was exhausted.
We get back to the dorm and drax0r helps me unload the rest of my car. There was a girl we'd met online that came over to go out with us - it was the first time we'd met her in r/l and how much fun is that? Of course it seemed like we already knew each other.
At that point, and in a surprising twist, we were all in Saudi Arabia. Now I think I know how this happened (the pictures I recently took while wearing my keffiyeh notwithstanding). My son spent twenty minutes on the phone last night with his best friend in Saint Louis, Sami - the youngest son of our Palestinian neighbors, and yes, they were there. We're at a a gigantic square structure (which honestly resembled their malls) and there were men and women sitting outside under umbrellaed tables dining and drinking. As we wait to get in, a 1967 Pontiac Tempest GTO pulled in. I couldn't believe it. Someone said, "Look, a '67 GTO!" As I studied it, I realized it was a 1965 Buick Riviera. But as I said this, we noticed it was actually a low-slung watercraft, which had just pulled up to the docks. It was the arrival of a Saud princess. We all looked down and averted our eyes as she disembarked, but I snuck a peek anyway, and she was gorgeous! Very royal. They party continued on, and we were next. We were there to eat Pizza Hut (isn't globalization a scary thing?) but we'd lost Sami! So...We all split-up trying to find him. drax0r and I kept running into each other, but couldn't find Sami anywhere in the giant complex. Deciding to regroup outside, I find Sami outside, sitting at one of the outdoor tables, with a Pizza Hut to-go box, eating. I helped myself to a slice.
Gae Ma Go Won Memorial Tower - Unification Park:
This memorial tower was built for the memory of about 200 anti-communist resistance fighters who were either captured or killed in the bloody battle around Gae Ma Go Won during the Korea War.