Like a true nature’s child,
We were born,
Born to be wild.
I got a message the other day of someone wanting to get back in touch the platoon we were in at boot camp. There was a kid sleeping in our room, full of energy but a little difficult at times (who isn’t). I often wondered if he, along with everyone else, got to finish his training course and join the unit he enlisted for, in his case the airborne commando’s.
On the fourteenth of April 2007, he got into an accident and was killed. I’m not sure about the exact dates but I don’t think he could have finished his two year training. It fucking sucks to hear this. They never mentioned accidents as a cause of death in basic, and somehow I just didn’t consider it a possibility.
I can’t say I missed him as much as my time in the army, but now this whole dream-like memory just got a face. I just wish he could have made it, but if I were to decide anything he wouldn’t be dead in the first place. I only knew him as a soldier, so that’s what I’ll remember him by.
We slept together, we ate together, we pissed together, we showered together. We dug makeshift foxholes together and got scolded for our sorry excuse of one. I only knew him for two months but the news of his death really stung, and hasn’t let me go since.
Nowadays, when I mention anything of my time there, I generally just see people roll their eyes around me. I can’t blame them, I hardly look like army material, even as a medic for the red cross. I don’t mind much, either, because I hate everything the army stands for. There should be no need for one, but sadly, there is, and I make no excuses for the fact that I volunteered and when the shit hits the fan, I will again.
I’m not sure what his motivation was, I do know that he often poked fun at me because I (theoretically) had the easiest training in the whole Belgian army. My usual response was that, if he ever got in trouble, I would be the one to carry him home.
The above quote comes from a website dedicated to him. They’re the lyrics to “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf (no peeking) and continue as follows:
We can climb so high,
I never wanna die…
Along with his parents and loved ones, I will remember my colleague for as long as I will live.
Somehow, that makes me proud. It feels like I can keep the promise I made him.
-I pity you.
-Therese… How I longed for those words. Now I can forget about all those times I watched your light go out, and knew that you were not alone.
-Where is your pride, Gabriel?
-You can’t have pride when the rain turns you half blind, or if you can’t see for a meter without thick glasses. I am twenty-five and still afraid of thunderstorms.
My voluntary job as light technician / sound technician / carpenter in theater group “De Balsemblomme” has come on an end. Not for long I suspect, but this production is finished and I don’t regret it much. It was certainly an interesting piece, but seeing it for over a dozen times ruins every bit of suspense, no matter how well acted.
The script this time, titles “The shadow of Mart”, was about a son killing his mother. A mix of circumstance, deeply rooted issues and some Oedipus complex causes a young man to lose his marbles when seeing the supposed love of his life being won over by arrogant but successful men. I can relate to that, and not just because I am supposed to. After what must have been the seventh performance, I got to thinking why that was, since I caught myself reflecting the most, not when this girl was involved, but while conversing with his mother about his deceased brother.
-Why don’t you love me!?
-Because you are ugly! …I mean… Because you have ugly thoughts.
I was very different than today when I was a child. Besides the obvious, I mean. I wet my bed and had a bad case of lazy eye. I matured slowly (still do) and had to take Ritalin by the truckloads. I was weak: When I was asked to move a bench in school for gymnastics together with someone else, my end didn’t even leave the floor.
I was an annoyance to most and I distinctly recall hearing my mother cry and ask my father why I had turned out that way, something that touched me surprisingly little at the time.
Today, I am a roadie and have little to compensate for regarding strength. I can run faster and longer than practically anyone. My eye has magically healed itself: it’s still not as good as the other but tests for the army gave it a 10/10 rating, which must make the other one 11/10 or something. I know what I’m doing and I know why, and have accomplished things that seem to impress some people. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, but at least on a physical level, it seems like I was cured from some curse or other.
I suppose then, it comes as no surprise that I’ve grown this obsession with enjoying life, now that I was given the full opportunity to do so. My refusal to acknowledge and tendency to fully compensate for weaknesses is easily explained by the fact that I don’t want to lose what seems to have come as a gift. Somehow, this both mentally and physically weak child escaped these defects, and seemed reborn along the way. It appears that a certain gratitude for life and compulsive urge to enjoy it to the fullest would only be appropriate, considering how easy (and even logical) it would have been to turn out differently, in a way that wouldn’t allow for this kind of lifestyle.
-Is this your first time here, Victor?
-And you just drop down on the couch like that?
-Oh, well, the couch is a lot more comfortable when things… eventuate, if you know what I mean?
-No, Victor. I do not.
It’s all nice in theory, but I seriously wonder if it actually reaches back this far. Freud would stain his panties if he heard all this, and I suppose everything that you are originates from what you went through in the past. The question is just, how much. I know of one man who could help me out on these questions, and perhaps help me figure out why the fuck I can’t approach anything potentially menstruating. But you see…
The director, a charming young lady, went around passing gifts to everyone. I too, got a small paper bag, with something scribbled on it:
A few small gadgets to thank you for everything. Post-its, to help you remember (I forgot my queue list ONCE). Superglue because you were the “fixer”. Your dedication and engagement were clear and that was an enormous relief for me (and the players). There is a first for everything, don’t let this be a one-time only. It was great working with you.
Kiss. [Name here]
I may not be a smooth-talker. I may not know how to look a girl in the eye. But I’ll fix their stuff, any time of the week. There’s better things than sex (I’m sure) and if not, there are at least other things. There’s plenty wrong with me but the contrast between Quasimodo on ADHD to “the fixer” is pretty much black and white. I am worth something. I contribute. I have sufficient reason to believe I am a good guy, and that counts at least for something. If not for them, at least for me.