November 11, 2008

A Reluctant Veteran

1060: Signing the papers in LA. Age 18.

Himself: Had a good day at work and brought me flowers. Talked.

Herself: Finished the road trip photo album, and it works. Felt really well for the first time in forever. The key was the fiber. Talked.

Food: I ate wildly for the fourth day. Coffee. Grape Nuts and rice milk. Half a cheese sandwich, V8, 1 diet Coke, quiche and salad with a WW bar, and 2 cups of tea with honey.

No one ever said I was functional.

I joined the military to run away from the two drunks who were my parents who wanted me to go to college. I knew I wasn’t an OK age 18, and I knew I needed more supervision that just living out there in the big world would give me.

I picked the branch of the military for three totally non functional reasons: 1. The recruiter drank with my parents and they liked him. 2. I liked the uniform. 3. They took me even with my low scores in math.

Then they put me in the finance corps as a payroll clerk. You know I was a failure. Folks with learning disabilities in math don’t make good pay clerks. I did make a good theater person….something I fell into purely by accident. It was a perfect solution that left me loving behind the scenes work, set design, and the theater for the rest of my life.

Along with the other few malcontents based on that post at that time, we made good theater out of thin air. Then I got married and immediately got pregnant.

A woman could not stay in the military if she were pregnant. I got out after two years and three months admitting I was a failure as a military person. Beatnik, they called me. Slowly I morphed away from my careful Republican upbringing into what ever I am now.

My first husband, Pablo, insisted I start college to bring in income from the GI Bill. I didn’t want to go, thinking I would fail, but there I was bringing in the GI bill. Many years of the GI Bill got me started learning things again. I discovered I could learn and loved to learn. All but math and languages. Not only did I get a degree but I qualified for medical care at the VA.

Today, I, the imperfect military fit, am very grateful that I made the decision to join the Army. My non-thinking as an 18 year old leads me to see the military from both sides of the fence as a 67 year old. I hate war, and especially the two we are in now, yet I can see the need to have a military. I support peace, yet I understand military thinking. I’m fascinated by military history especially the architecture. I married an Army Officer who had always wanted to be an Army officer. It’s a whole different way of thinking.

Yet I remain a reluctant veteran.

At Ft. Eustis, Virginia, 1961.

1 comment:

  1. Mage, this was an interesting story. You sure lived a life with many bends and curves along the way.


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...