ROAD TRIP 2

Susan Smith Nash

 

Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma

 

Someone once told me I could manufacture synchronicity if I went through the same motions over and over.  “There is no meaning without repetition,” it was explained to me.  That sounds lewd, I replied.  I drawled and curled the “ew” in “lewd.” 

 

            In this little Oklahoma lake town, even the bricks have names.  It was an exercise in identity, or in making your mark.  I wasn’t sure which.  They were simply trying to raise money for the downtown pavilion and tourist center, though.  Buy a space and a brick with your name on it would fill the hole.  It looked a bit like a mausoleum, but who had the courage to say it?

 

“Sit here.”

 

“Yes, dear.”

 

“Look that way.”

 

“Yes, dear.”

 

I was starting to enjoy pretending to be dominated.

 

The mayor made a bulls-eye over Eufaula and said, “That’s precisely where we’ve got a problem.  We need stoplights!”

 

“Economic development,” said the populace.  “Since we now have traffic, let’s sell lake-front property.”

 

The fish in the lake obliged and spawned in the turbid waters.  The Oklahoma Biological Survey offers courses and gives out an “A” to anyone who catches a tagged bass.  If you eat it, you get an “F.” 

 

The Bass Fishermen’s Association sponsors a huge Bass Tournament.  Weigh, photograph, and register your fish.  You can take it home if you want.  They simply ask that you pay the admission fee.

 

We aren’t too interested in competitions these days.  We’re interested in positive thinking, controlling our thoughts and attitudes, putting on a positive face for the world.

 

You can’t stop thinking about your time in the desert.  That was more than ten years ago.  It haunts you.  I want to help your pain.  I can’t.  I know it, and so I attend to details that don’t really matter.  I prune roses, plant trees, collect decorative bottles.

 

Well, it was hard for me to ever comprehend what you went  through, and your feelings for your fellow soldiers until my son joined the Marines.  Raging, violent, outpouring of pain seems to characterize the Desert Storm soldiers I’ve met.  It’s incomprehensible to me – the war didn’t last long.  How could it have had such an impact?  How could it have left such scars?  Society offers veterans its remedies-du-jour for pain.  Blackout-level drinking.  Obsessive love-hate relationships with one’s girlfriend or wife.  Ineffective biochemical engineering in the form of Prozac, or whatever else they tend to give people when they suffer from a pain exacerbated by solitude.

 

I’m afraid to say what’s really on my mind.    I don’t want to lose you – to have the presence of you evaporate like so much rain sizzling onto hot bricks on steamy, summer day.

 

It’s never simple like that.  We both know it.  We know this at the same time; synchronicity is a kind of parallel flowering of many unrelated and disconnected ideas and concepts, all at the same time. 

 

That was when I realized you were already gone; and perhaps you hadn’t actually ever returned from the desert.  But, of course, that is too hard for me to face.  I’d rather think economic development and wonder how to bait a hook.

 

Solitude does not heal the battle-torn veteran.