I sit in the corner by a window. In my peripheral vision I count a hundred legs passing by on the sidewalk outside, their owner's identities and features concealed by the half-closed blinds that also shelter me from the setting sun's last burning rays of this warm Saturday evening in late May. Sitting there I ponder the valleys and summits of my life, presently feeling abandoned, perhaps having lost my grip and anchor on the climb, but knowing I can only continue to ascend this mountain, even without my belay. Jazz music disturbs the still, quiet air in Radina's Roastery. The normally packed and lively coffee house is quite empty, most likely because of the
Though I haven't had an intimately emotional relationship with a woman in over two years, this band of gold that is engraved on my left hand keeps my heart focused on what is most important, and not distracted by the bombardment of opportunities that seek to fruitlessly occupy that missing void in my life. I don't feel bombarded right now. But I do desire friendship. That is part of my humanity that sometimes bubbles up to the surface of who I am, I guess. I feel like I'm living in a foreign land these days, a prairieland of faces and voices I do not recognize or understand. The day to day life I am becoming accustomed to in my new environment is full of the lost and profane. As much as I want to connect with my co-workers and the people I live with, as much as I want to share the truth and peace and hope and joy with them, I am constricted. I thank God for some of the opportunities I have had, and I am thankful for a new brother I have recently met, but its certainly not the same as the brotherhood and sisterhood of friends I recently left in Europe, and the wonderful families who took me in during my pilgrimage across this continent in recent months.
Since I won't connect with anyone at Radina's tonight, I take my last sip of now cold Cappuccino, wish the Barrista good night, and exit onto the now dark sidewalk. The vampires have emerged, and I'm not one of them. Scores of students, and the occasional Soldier or Sailor, move up and down the streets of Aggieville in clusters, some already intoxicated, through alcohol, or perhaps the spirit of friendship or desire, but most heading for the countless themed bars and hangouts that pump gyrating or rocking music into the night.
Later as I drive back to base I pass by fraternity and sorority houses, overflowing onto the lawns with young people, drinks in hand, laughing, and enjoying the warm Spring night. Their final exams have ended, many have graduated, and all have turned a new chapter in their lives. What will they be doing in a year? Some will be back in school. Some will be employed. Some will take pride in wearing the uniform I now wear. I can't help but wonder, though, are they wasting their lives, like I did for so much of mine?