The first time I managed to water-ski, it was Memorial Day weekend about a million years ago and yesterday in Possum Kingdom Lake. My parents and next door neighbors, Larry and MaryAnn, were out on an ancient ski-boat to which someone had affixed glittery letters that should have read Fun At Sea, but some had fallen off, rendering it un A Sea. I'd never had any luck yet -- I was a small child and physically inept and way too nervous to let myself relax enough to let the boat do the work of pulling me out of the water. But this time, Larry got into the water and put my feet into the skis and taught me how to position myself in the water, all while managing to smoke a cigarette and not dousing it. I was so impressed with this feat and mesmerized by the ashes crumbling into the less than pristine water that I forgot to be afraid and managed to rise from the water in the tiny wooden children's water skis that were leftover from many years ago. I went a fair ways until I realized what I was doing and in trying to do it, managed to fall. That was the first time I realized that you could do something without exerting your will and that in fact, your will was the thing that fucked everything up, made it impossible to be in the moment.
I had no words for what had happened, but everyone was happy when I got back into the boat. I sat eating bean dips and Doritos and watched everyone else take their turn. Some people could ski with one ski; my dad could even do tricks like letting go of the rope, turning around, and grabbing it again. I knew I would never be that good. By age six, I had taken to calling myself a fatalist, a word I loved because of the way fatal sounded. It sounded like you didn't have to hope for things that weren't going to happen anymore, that you had come to a peace. But I had made it up on the skis for a brief moment -- I would never be a person who couldn't ski again. Things had changed! It was the beginning of summer in 1978, and the last war we'd fought was Vietnam. I had no recollection of it, of course, except for the men I knew who'd been in it. They didn't talk about it very often. Sometimes a thing speaks for itself -- words become superfluous, dying flowers on a grave, the flags at half-mast, a day off to think about the sacrifices others make before heading into the summer that will go all too fast before the hard winter begins.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Within the soul of each Vietnam veteran there is probably something that says 'Bad war, good soldier.' Only now are Americans beginning to separate the war from the warrior.” Max Cleland
Drinking movie suggestion: Full Metal Jacket
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Memorial Day! Much love for our troops and prayers for their quick and safe return.