Christmas Eve came, and before I took off to my parent's house with my family and a truck full of aluminum wrapped food and colorfully wrapped gifts something interesting happened. An event occurred that filled me with a flood of unexpected memories.
Twenty years ago I served my nation in the United States Navy. My first duty station was the USS Chandler, DDG-996
. While researching information regarding the ship, I stumbled across a site that not only gave the history of the ship, but also a list of crew members
that have added their names to the ever-growing list of shipmates. I added my name at that time.
Later in the day I decided to add my name to the crew list of my second sea-going command, the USS Peoria, LST-1183
After adding my name to the Peoria's crew list, I decided to scan the lists of both ships for any of my old shipmates. I only found one. He was listed on the Chandler's list.
Interestingly, the last time I saw this individual was after a little immature partying down in Tijuana. On the trolley during our trip back, suddenly my stomach began to rumble.
The trolley was standing room only because it was so packed.
My stomach lurched.
I then commenced to regurgitate on everybody around me, turning my head as I did so, reaching my maximum target potential.
People screamed, scrambled out of their seats, fighting to get away from the puking sailor in civilian clothes. Faced with the sudden advent of empty seats, I did what came naturally. I took a seat.
Somebody in the rear of the trolley-car screamed, "Hey, buddy, that's one way to get a seat!"
At the next stop, my buddy grabbed me by the shirt and dragged me off the trolley before somebody finally realized what had truly happened and decided to pound me into a different zip code.
As we sat there on the bench in a parking lot waiting for a cab to arrive, a couple of girls sit beside us. My buddy's eyes lit up, and we began to talk to the young women.
Suddenly, my stomach began to lurch, and then I opened my mouth and launched wet, partially digested projectiles on the shoes of our visitors. They fled in disgust. My shipmate dropped his head into his hands, not bringing it up until the cab arrived.
He got into the front and gave the backseat to me. After observing my convulsive maneuvers, the cab driver, in broken English, said, "You do not mess my car. Roll down window. Be sick outside."
I only puked twice on the freeway, both times splattering my gifts upon the vehicles behind us.
So when I noticed on the website yesterday that this friend of mine was listed, and could be contacted, I said in the message, "Remember me? Last time we got together was twenty years ago, and I was vomiting on everyone's shoes on the San Diego Trolley."
An e-mail came back, but from his estranged mate. She wrote, "If this isn't a hoax, he'll be glad to hear from you." And then she gave me his phone number.
I called my friend, and we talked about our Navy days, about the past, about memories forgotten, and about lost shipmates.
And I learned how much I've changed, and how much I've been blessed.
It is amazing how those memories are affecting how I write my books.