Posted on December 17, 2005
It’s been a strange kind of day. Found out last night that my eldest sibling, with whom we had been planning to spend Christmas has had a sudden turn for the worse in her health. Still heading back east, I should think, but now the timeline is all in flux: Go early? Later? Stay on game plan? Can’t say.
Probably could have seen this coming, and that’s all I have to say about that.
Today I think I will hang the Christmas lights, and then be shot of it. A small tree of our own and a celebration for “just us” on the 21st, and then head east, again, if no new thing arises. Back in the day when I was going to sea all the time and moving across country every couple of years, the family reunion in Virginia seemed a welcome shot of permanence in our otherwise gypsified lifestyle. Now that we have a home of our own, and a place we have lived for over four years – the imagination reels at the thought – it seems somehow unfortunate to have missed all of that Norman Rockwellesque waking up in your own home, hearing the patter of feet running downstairs and the sound of hands tearing at the presents. But after our parents died in ‘82 it became a kind of familial loyalty check to make the trek home again, even from Japan. And I think the kids appreciated it. Ah, hell. Who knows.
In the old days it seemed life had a kind of rhythm to it, and families weren’t spread all over hell and gone. We’d drive up to Alexandria and visit part of the family, Richmond for the rest, ever once in a while stab out west all the way to Chatham, south of Lynchburg and almost all the way to Danville where the horse cousins lived, with their strange accents. But it was all Virginia, and no one we knew lived anywhere else. My uncle in Richmond used to build a “haitch-oh, double-oh” train track right there in the living room every Christmas time, complete with mountains and snow and bridges and little train stations and it was a source of constant wonder to me then, as it still is now when I think back on it. What was the connection between trains and Christmas? It just was, for him, and as associated in my memory as is the lingering smell of the cigars he’d always smoke, and the difficult to express as a seven-year old suspicion that he maybe drank a bit more than was quite healthy for him.
It occurs to me with a shock that my oldest sister is the same age now that my moms was when she died. Seems scarcely possible.
Well, wasn’t that fun? No telling where the track takes us these days.
So. Just did a Google map to the house, for no better reason than I could. Here’s a higher view: If you grab the map and drag it up a bit you’ll see Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, which of course was a Navy base nicknamed “Fightertown” and the subject of a certain movie, back when the world was in its proper orbit.
Just west of the 5/805 merge there on the left is Torrey Pines Golf Course, and long time readers may recall me writing of each from time to time. I’ve spent more time on the merge lately than on the golf course, which gives you some sense of how very full everything is these days. Next up is a still higher view, and to orient yourself to the previous frames, Miramar is now at the top of the frame. Down at the bottom you see San Diego harbor, and if you drag the map up a bit, you’ll see the opening to the harbor, with Point Loma on the north forming the northern channel boundary, looking a bit like a droopy upper lip. Stretching this simile, North Island Naval Air Station, where I work, is the lower lip, and you can just make out the crossed runways there on the air station.
Which is all a rather uninteresting walk to a small, plain house, but if you reverse the process, going from large to small, you’ll see the way an attack pilot funnels his way to a target for a visual or laser-guided delivery. So how about them potatoes?
Speaking of potatoes, occasional reader Tommy sends this along, too rich not to share:
We’ve all heard about people having guts or balls. But do you really know the difference between them?
In an effort to keep you informed, the definition for each is listed below –
GUTS – is arriving home late after a night out with the guys, being assaulted by your wife with a broom, and having the guts to ask: “Are you still cleaning, or are you flying somewhere?”
BALLS – is coming home late after a night out with the guys, smelling of perfume and beer, lipstick on your collar, slapping your wife on the butt and having the balls to say: “You’re next.”
I hope this clears up any confusion on the subject.
You: Wait. What has that got to do with potatoes?
Hey, you know that sea story just concluded? The ballad of Lazlo? * It’s almost one of my oldest actual sea stories. When it came to mind t’other day, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t already told it. Went through the archives, googled myself and still came up with nothing.
It was like finding a twenty dollar bill in an old suit.
Finding money. You know, I’m a grown up now. Navy captain and everything. Four stripes and three kids, one of which is in college. And my sister, the one who’s sick, still sends me money on my birthday. Because it doesn’t matter how old I am, or what level I’ve risen to or what I’ve accomplished. To her, I’ll always be the baby brother.
Spare her a prayer if you’ve any in you. Her name is Ann.
** Link added – Ed.