(For those of you who have been around since the "Genesis 1:1" of this blog, you’ve already heard this story – probably more than once, so stay with me).
Eric was stationed in Anbar and he was our third soldier, the other two having gone home or dropped out the SA program for whatever reason. I have to believe – for the sake of my sanity – it had nothing to do with injury or death.
So by solider (Marine) number three I was pretty good at writing to total strangers fully expecting to never hear from them in return. They aren’t over there to write to me, they’re there to do a job.
About a month after sending the first Marine mini-care package I got a really humorous letter from the guy on the other end. I thought, “What a nice kid, he acknowledged my effort. Good guy.” Figuring that was the end of it.
So I kept writing – as was my responsibility - and he kept answering. I was tickled to death! I learned a lot about him, his job in the military, what he wants to do when he gets out, his childhood, his family and his buddies. It was great.
Until one day I realized that I know this person, he is real to me. Suddenly I had somebody in a war zone - not just a war zone, but Anbar for God’s sake – so until he got back safe and sound on US soil, I worried. A lot.
He returned to San Diego this past spring and we kept in touch sporadically via email (the Soldier’s Angels gig technically ends when your hero returns home).
Over the summer he trained in the Arizona desert – without Internet access, of course. In the meantime I struggled with – well, you all know what I’ve struggled with this year. I thought about him a lot – especially after he told me he was headed back to Iraq in the fall – but we lost touch for a while.
When he returned to Iraq a few months ago he emailed me with his new address and I swear to you that every day – EVERY day - I thought, “Damn, I need to write to Eric.” But I never did.
Well, for whatever reason I got off my duff and dropped him a line this week – and he answered IMMEDIATELY.
He wondered what’d happened to me.
I am such a terrible person. I am a HORRIBLE person, obsessed with my own issues and totally ignoring my responsibility as a human to care for others.
Believe me, I’ve snapped out of it.
So the funny part of this story is that the day before yesterday he sent me a few pictures of himself (yes, that's actually him above) and some guys in his unit. Of course, he’s the cutest boy you’ve ever laid eyes on.
I have to say that because I’m practically his aunt. The truth is, he’s quite the handsome dude.
Last night I was out having margaritas with my girls when my Blackberry lit up. Thinking something was on fire at work, I checked it – turned out to be a message from Eric answering my last email, informing me that I do not thankyouverymuch need to buy a Volvo C30 turbo, that it would cause me to get far too many speeding tickets and that I should buy a Honda Accord sedan because it’s safe (read: responsible and DULL).
Excuse me? Who is the 40-year old and who is the 24-year old in this scenario? Well that just tickled my funny bone and made me laugh out LOUD. Everybody turned to look and wanted to know just what exactly was so funny. (There actually was a funnier part of the email concerning women chasing him on Facebook, but that's a whole other story).
So I showed the girls the pictures of Eric. Big mistake - they just about came undone. I mean these women they fell apart.
I won’t repeat some of the insensitive things they said - things I myself may have recently said about someone else's young loved one , but it got my hackles up! I had to tell one particularly impressed chick to keep it in her pants.
The irony is not lost on me that I am very protective of this guy who, strangely, is two years older than the boy I want to keep as my love slave. God, it sucks to get old.