43 Octobers

Trees still full of leaves, with a vibrant array of colors. A time of vibrancy, tinged with the calming quite of winter approaching. The taste of which floats upon the wind. During the time of year when oak and maples change from green to red and orange, but not yet brown, I came into this world. For 43 of these seasons I wandered and wondered in many places upon this globe. Myriad questions floated past my purview. Some finding answers, some of those answers turning from definitive into something less so. And a good many of my life’s queries simply offered up into the grand mystery of existence.

Early in my life, I remember one winter. Newport, Rhode Island; snow, a thick, comfortable coat, corduroy, and boots. And my mother’s attention to this moment’s fun. Drifting forth, I remember a school room, doffing coats upon hooks, snow melting into puddles, warmth flowing forth.

Sometime after, but not too much so, a vision of grey, white and black flickering inside a giant wooden box. Faint visions of grey dirt, a oddly bouncing man leaping forth from a tin-foil house. The lunar landing filled me with wonder, becoming my earliest obsession. Moon books, astronaut books, comics, toys, and myriad paraphernalia. Slowly, this expanded out to aviation in general. Lucky me, later on in life, my father worked at the Pentagon and brought me home a 3-d/moving image disc of a NASA weather plane. This delighted me for years.

We moved to Northern Virginia, where I started school. An ancient (by my standards) farm flowed onto our back yard. It was there during the Civil War. This neighborhood, just over a hundred years prior, spent time as a battlefield; one of the battles of Bull Run or the Battle of Chantilly, depending on who you asked. There were many moments exploring Civil War sites nearby, which filled me with a sense of excited wonder. Oddly, now when I reflect on that time, I’m filled with a sense of sadness. Massive losses of sons, husbands, fathers loaded the country with sorrow. With such glories journeys great pain. Much like Janus, this dualistic face.

Moments in Subic Bay, Philippines, an older child, yet still quite a child. Staring in wonder upward at hordes of giant fruit bats, literally blackening the sky. These amazing animals, some with wing-spans of 6 feet, brought me an appreciation of nature. Never had I seen such an amazing display. The wildlife there taught me so much of life. Geckos running amok, in every room, in cars, across dinner tables. Ants appearing wherever sugar lay forgotten, sometimes seconds afterwards…or so it seems. Then ants, much larger, aggressive, determined, making nests of leaves, leaving trails in the jungle, where I wasn’t suppose to be wandering. A jungle laden with excitement, and danger…though I wasn’t cognizant of this danger. Such things as asiatic cobras, monitor lizards, and myriad other toxic animals alone would probably give my parents sleepless nights…had they known I wandered amongst those vine laden trees.

Returning, in a sense, late elementary age, to the Seattle area. Place of my parents birth, grand-parent’s births, and myriad journeys for holidays. An excitement to see my grandparents regularly. Proximal family helped bring a sense of “home” to this place. Though I made many good friends, I always felt a sense of alienness. Someone with a world of exploration behind him amongst people who, many at least, had not ever left the region. An early global vision amongst very provincial people.

Adult journeys included a stint in northwestern Oregon, time in central Florida, and eastern Idaho. Part of my twenties was spent fleeing this area. The rest of those years was spent re-integrating myself to this region. One key moment came, upon a transiting Trident Submarine returning to Hood Canal, seeing the mist working through the autumnal evergreens and feeling a powerful sense of home.

Now, I look back upon myriad choices. Poor ones, painful ones, some with regrets, some with wonder at resultant joy. After all of it, I must say that my life is pleasing. Sitting here, listening to my son do homework, my wife assisting, fills me with a sense of wondrous, delighted contentment. Knowing quite well that those choices, good and ill, all ladder upon each other building towards this life I have now. Knowing that, looking out upon my wonderful mass of friends and family, I accept the pains of old. Without them, this life, this now wouldn’t exist. Perhaps, then, I am grateful.

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