I am a beyond hopeless romantic! What will surprise most is that I am shy, awkward, and usually terrified during the early stages of courtship. This was why I didn’t like dating. It made me feel weak, vulnerable, and a little silly. All the emotions and the fact that it is impossible to ever really know what the other person is truly thinking and how they truly feel about you. I don’t like not knowing! As a child my life was unstable, and I was always unsure about the love my parents had for me. It felt terrible to live like that, In a constant state of doubt. What’s bad is that I carried that doubt with me through most of my life and some traces of it still linger. This lingering doubt, the fear of not being truly loved caused me anxiety. When Adrian grabbed my bag that day my emotions were a complete mess! Blown away by the romance of it all.
I was feeling so many things all at once. Because I was happy to see him and because I had watched too many romantic movies I felt it was destiny that we bumped into one another. I was angry that he never told me that he was leaving or said good bye. I was pissed that he had wrote all those words expressing all these emotions, getting me all in my feelings and then vanished! I hid all of this as best as I could, I didn’t know what was going on with him. Were the letters just a fluke just something he did because he never thought he would see me again? A kind of death bead confession. Did he truly mean the things he said? There were so many unknows I was beyond unsure, uncomfortable, and undone. I never asked, and he never said. Adrian gave me a ride to the barracks. He introduced me to a few people and helped me take my bags up to my room. He never spoke of the letters or having feelings for me. It hurt but whatever… such was life. The darkness was only allowed the time it took for me to make it from the front desk to my room. I thanked him and then kicked him out, so I could unpack my bags.
After getting settled I met my roommate Linda, she was Korean from New Jersey. She had a crazy New York accent and attitude to match it! I liked her straight away. I loved the way she talked and her swag. Our room was one fourth of a quad. I assumed it was arranged like a typical dorm room. A central, shared living area with four rooms connecting to it. each room had two twin beds and a privet bathroom. For some the idea of living in a small room with someone you just met and have no idea what they are like is scary. It was just what it was to me. Until just now I never gave it a second thought. I just figured it would be fine, and it was. Linda was a little different. I found her uniqueness to be so intriguing. I would observer her and ask questions. occasionally she would get quite annoyed. Like the one time I found out that she didn’t speak Korean. I asked her “why don’t you try to learn Korean?” Her reply, “because, I don’t know. Why don’t you learn to speak African!” To be fair I had been asking her quite a few questions and no I was not offended by her response. If you are offended easily then the conversation ends and there can never be understanding or growth. If you keep the conversation going you can each have the opportunity for clarity and growth. Even if the person doesn’t agree with me I like to imagine that perhaps I planted a seed. And after being nourished and given light(knowledge) that seed will grow into understanding. I been a philosopher from way back. I explained that there is no language called African. I also told her that I was a little envious of the fact that she had a place. As an African American I have a continent. That continent has over fifty countries with thousands of languages. I wish I knew the one that belonged to me. In this way we talked often. We would talk about the meaning life, love, family and all kinds of stuff. Both of us had traumatic childhoods. We would only skim the surface only divulging the slightest of details. Somehow us misfit toys always seem to find one another.
It would be a few months before I would actually be working in my shop with Linda. When I first made it to base I had to work TAD (temporary assigned duty) for three months. We had to help maintain the base. I was assigned to a painting crew. This is where I met Boo B and Ron, who would go on to introduce me to a whole host of folks. They would also become my big brothers always looking out for me, but also always into some crazy shit!
I don’t remember the first buildings we painted but we were always done relatively quickly. Then we got assigned to paint the base hotel. I’m sure this job was at most supposed to take us a few weeks. Somehow, we managed to make it last over two months!! You see, we were on Coronado Island in San Diego. The hotel was on the beach! We painted a bit but spent most of the day shooting the shit looking out on the ocean. I don’t remember the details of all the conversations, but I can see the silent movies of us in our blue overalls with paint rollers in hand leaning against the wall chatting about whatever. Somehow when I reached my first duty station I had managed to be put on to the most chill paint crew and given the most chill assignment! Life was good! Well goodish. I was still on shore duty.
What also sucked was that I still had to see Adrian from time to time. When I finally made it to the shop I would be working in, his was just down the hall from mine. He also lived in the same barracks as me! And even though I told myself that he was lying in the letters a part of me still wanted him to want me. I was so annoyed with that part of me. It did not help that he was also friends with some of the same folks that I had just made friends with. Some weekends we would all hung out, but without the framework of the drill team back in A-school we saw one another less and less. I couldn’t decide if I was happy about it or not.