look, up in the sky... -
I've been busy.
We began our trip to San Diego at 3:30 on the afternoon of Friday the 13th. If it weren't for freeway carpool lanes, we'd still be there. More than two years had gone by since the last time we saw our former neighbors Edmond, Sasha, and their daughter Lara, and I was looking forward to having Amy and Lara reunite after so long a time. We'd been putting off this trip for one reason or another for far too long, but when a seed was planted in my brain back in April at the Pt. Mugu airshow ("Big airshow coming in October down near San Diego, ladies and gentlemen..."), I put the scheduling machinery into motion.
What I want to write here is a pithy piece about the effects of seeing old neighbors again, and how even though a relationship as neighbors may be short, circumstance and outlook have a way of creating bonds beyond proximity. I want to talk about the caress of domesticity and how important it is to remember kindness and simple generosity. I know I have something to say about the value of just visiting, the basic tribal instinct of sharing the view along the path. All of that is spiritually nutritious, but I don't want to chew on it too much. It may be best just to taste it, smile, and swallow.
We got to the airshow at 9:00 on Saturday morning, lucked into great parking, and moseyed around for a couple of hours before sitting down for lunch. It was here that Amy and Lara broke through their shyness, chasing each other around the table and letting out the giggles they'd been holding in.
After lunch, we headed over toward the flight line, picked out a chunk of airbase to call our own, and hunkered down on a blanket. It was noon, and I think we were already tired.
Our hosts for the weekend had never been to an airshow before, and I'm always curious about the reactions of newbies to the experience. This time, I was more curious than usual because of the circumstances. Airshows are generally impressive events, what with all the fancy flying, and military airshows can carry an even greater impact given their penchant for showing off powerful hardware. But I was more curious because Edmond is from Iraq, and I wondered what would go through the mind of a man whose family has seen the sorts of things that have happened there in the last few years. Simulated bombing runs and strafing, helicopter and tank assaults, they have a tendency to startle the heart and focus the mind. And I watched Sasha too. She's from China, and not blind to the efforts of political persuasion, and a military airshow is nothing if not an attempt to be politically persuasive.
This airshow was almost identical to the airshows I attended in the 1960's during the height of the Vietnam War. The rhetoric is the same, with vague language used to identify the current threat. Most of the hardware has changed, of course. Now it is more cunning and lethal and expensive. Also identical to those old shows was the presence of the Blue Angels.
I know they are fighter-attack aircraft flown by men upon whom we've spent millions of dollars to train with the intent to destroy objects and people, but, to put it simply, there is beauty in their flight. As with the Edgerton photo of the bullet at the moment it exits the apple, I can't look away from this metal made to fly at piercing speed. A Blue Angels performance engages all the senses - the glint of light off polished wings, the roar of engines tearing air, the feel of one's own heart beating faster in anticipation of the next silent surprising approach, the smell of spent Jet A, and just the slightest taste, not on the tongue, of blood.
Their strategy of deep interdiction targeted me long ago and hit the mark. I know this. I am moved beyond reason. There are forces at work in the world that made this happen. Innocent boys are swept up by snappy salutes and taken by shiny blue wings to romantic mythical places. Religion and politics are the hosts of this party. Feel free to talk about such things.
I'm moving on now to a more mundane level of journal entry, partly because after a long absence it's easy for me to be long-winded, but mostly because the cough syrup is beginning to kick in. Yeah, this could be my first cold in a long time, and, as usual, it comes at the most inopportune moment. I'm supposed to go to the local high school homecoming game tonight to make some photographs of my neighbor Dave with his football star son, and cool moist autumn nights are beloved by viruses. I'm penciled-in on a few other agendas this weekend and it looks like I'm going to have to pull out my eraser.
If this illness takes the usual track, 2000 will be known to me as the year the Mets faced the Yankees in the Beautyrest Series as I'll be sneezing, gurgling, and convalescing in my bed in front of the TV. I remember how lucky I was to be deathly ill back in '69 when I stayed home from school to watch the Amazing Mets. But now, having taken my first ride on the #4 train up to the Bronx this past April, I am most definitely a Yankees fan.
Okay. I gotta go have me a serious lie-down.
"Young At Heart" -- Willie Nelson -- MUSIC FROM THE MOTION PICTURE SPACE COWBOYS
"Every time history repeats itself the price goes up."