Earl Grey in the Park

July 17, 2006

My future self is debating whether to buy a car in Virginia or wait until Illinois.  For personal transportation you see–with room for only whatever I deem to take with me.  The Strict Circus I am a part of will not hitch a ride.   It will be a leisurely, but adventurous drive home, through the wilds of the Commonwealth and old Border States.  The rugged, smokey hills of West Virginia, and through undulating Kentucky.  The family will mob me and not want to let go, because they will have some crazy idea I came home to stay.  After a few hands of cards, a game of Scrabble perhaps. and a chat with Mom and watching the last Chicago Bears football game of the season with Dad, and some hanging out stuff with Nicole, because I have never in my life hung out with my younger sister.  Not really. She was ten when I went to college, and fourteen when I took this current oath.  Then I will spend New Year’s somewhere time will not find me, while the passing of it is justice. I will spend, because I’ve defended America.  Then it will be off to the books and the classes my mind is just waiting for my body to catch up to.

I think about it all the time–what my civilian, non-metallic room will look like; what my house in Edwardsville with Andy will be like; how far away from the campus of Southern Illinois it will be.  I imagine the crunchy, guitar-strumming coffee house near by, and the gym that I might ride to on my bike after class.  In my mind I ride on my very first day, even if it will be January, and two feet of ice and snow cover the land.  Then I will sit in class and devour Mass Communication so I can get a Masters, and be Important. MC majors make a lot.   Masses of it, even.  I will wonder if I’ve fooled people about my age, or if I really look nearly 28.  They’ll ask me what I’ve been doing, and they’ll say, “Oh, so you were an officer then…” and I’ll say,  “No.  I couldn’t have stood being saluted.”  It isn’t my style, you know. I’ll be one, then, who hunts Success,  joining–no!–forming student groups and getting the sterling grades I should have gotten in another life.  Because if you don’t, know what?  You to do something like join the go-go military, and sit in the middle of nowhere, like Life’s Loser on yet another Friday night like it’s a Monday afternoon.

Instead of that laid-in watery grave, I will build my scholastic steam and my case, while working a part-time job on the weekends to pay the bills by G.I. Bill won’t cover, and I will take my pristine record to the University of Illinois to graduate in my last semester, like I had gone there all the time.  Some times you just gotta take advantage to the opportunities as they are, you know?  And with my U of I degree I’ll get to choose from any of the few choices there are in the Land of Lincoln.  I’ve been thinking I’d like to go into the music biz, work promotions of bands and new albums, as long as it isn’t Clearwater, because that’s just the poison that’s killing the sound.

And then I will have arrived… and I can get my quiet meaningful job, the thing that saves everyone and no one on a foreign country I haven’t head of yet, and enjoy all of the little, simple pleasures because of my Masters supporting the wall.  Only then can I feel the cool air against my face in an April’s afternoon as the sun light’s the sky, the waving grasses and the neatly ruined stone walls along the narrow streets, enjoying a class of Merlot and a wedge of Havarti as children play kickball in the dusty street. And I sink my into the works of Kafka.  Or perhaps a simple afternoon tea, Earl Grey, in the park with a developing loved one as the artists slap easily at canvas and gawking tourists pass in a light rain.

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