Burned Up

<<<previous <<<free falling

November 4, 1998

Things were winding down, and I was preparing myself for the dreaded return to civilization in Virginia to finish off my marriage. I had the door put back on my locker, tried to re-shape the garbage can I'd kicked the crap out of, took a few more shots at murdering the centipede I'd shared my room with for the past year but couldn't seem to knock off. Then I threw away the photo I'd received from the 480th Intelligence Group, signed by my old co-workers, and put my room back together so I wouldn't get in trouble when I went back to the U.S., less than a month out. I began going to Mission Baptist Church in August, after 32 1/2 years of faithful attentance in the Catholic Church, and it was the best thing I did the entire time I was in Korea (that and visiting Ha). My mood swung the other way for a time and I had my Christian brothers and sisters to be with. I was learning to express deep hurt and love through my poetry and every time I wrote a piece, I'd send it to the world in emails to get feedback. I wrote some of my best pieces out of pain.
I got a super powerful bicycle light (32 watts) and rode my bicycle around the base at night, sometimes going out at midnight because of my erratic sleep patterns. This was helpful in relieving stress and the light was so powerful that the normally rude taxis on base would yield to me, thinking I was a motor vehicle. One chilly Saturday morning I did 16 laps of the base, or, 100 miles. I began doing laps on that hill next to the gym which I'd raced up so many times(photo below), after Aaron told me he did it in a minute and fifty seconds on his bicycle. I couldn't let that go unchallenged, so I tried it and was able to shave a minute off his time. It gave me something fun to break up monotonous rides--ride the base, ride the hill, rinse, repeat. I'd start at the gym crosswalk on about a 6.4% grade, accelerate as hard as I could without popping a wheelie, and usually exceed 22 miles an hour by the time I hit the tight elbow-turn that flattened out to around 4% at the halfway point, then back up to around 6.5% grade at the finish. How fun it was to pass cars uphill, even if my legs turned to spaghetti and my tongue was hanging out.

Things were painful, tolerable, and my memory was back. I remembered my cats, "my girls" whom I knew missed me. I drew this picture of Moo in my work notebook and keep it in my wallet now.

 My little buddy>>>
My favorite hill>>>
November 4th was my one-year anniversary in Korea. It had been an adventure of the soul, and it didn't surprise me one bit. I felt I'd aged ten years though...emotionally I was an old man. I took this picture in the same place I'd taken the shot a year earlier when I'd gotten off the plane. I arrived in Korea hopeful, lonely and optimistic knowing that no matter what I would never forget this year. I left Korea burned up, hopeful, and my loneliness had a name and a face.

That red mark on the right side of my nose was a wart which started after I lost my mind in July. I tore it off with a razor blade. I hate warts...it never came back.