The Mother of All Weeks

Captain America leaves then nothing makes sense where you or I are in this crazy world.

Hey you.

 

I’m struggling today to put together everything that’s happened in just over a week to make some semblance of rational, sensible order in my head.  But I think that’s because this week has been about as far from sensible or rational as you can get – for both of us.

 

Only a couple of weeks ago I was in a restaurant in Itaewon laughing at [Captain America] pounding South African Chardonnay like it was water and shaking my head again at how much he camps up with the merest whiff of alcohol.  If ever there was a pretty boy born to wear spandex adorned with the Star Spangled Banner, it’s [Captain America].  He misses you.  Really misses you.  I miss watching you two banter off each other like you’re brothers who’ve known each other all your lives, rather than a junior Lieutenant and his mentor who only met a year ago.  There is no way he’ll find a best friend to match you in Honduras.  I’m sure the Honduran ladies will be appreciative of his All American-ness enough so he doesn’t mind too much.  As long as he keeps the song and dance acts to a minimum so they don’t worry about the spandex.

 

Everything started out so normal last week.  Well, rational at least. Some text banter that I’m sure was very annoying over there for you by a drunken [Danger 2] when I stayed over with him and [Korean Beauty].  It just made us all a bit too sad that you weren’t here.  Then we both pushed on into the week in our different parts of the world.  And the sense just seemed to go out the window.  But in the two places where you and I are ‘rolling with the punches’ at the moment, I’m starting to realise we should forget about sensible.

 

The Mother of All Bombs.  You didn’t have to tell me how close you were.  I had Google maps open the minute the news alert flashed on my screen.  And before we could even talk about the Freudian symbolism of that decision, I was shaking hands with your Vice President up on the border of North Korea while enough camera crews to satisfy a Kardashian family outing were literally pushing leaning on my shoulders.  I didn’t know at that stage the ‘mother of all rhetoric’ bombs that were being lobbed cavalierly into that tension soup.  Everyone here has been going about normal everyday business a little bewildered at the number of messages coming from every corner of the globe to try to get the on the ground assessment of how bad things really are here.  (Answer – they aren’t.  We’re all just a bit baffled by the spinning top of words and news reports that look like they’re going to topple over the edge into fantasyland hysteria).  I think the most bizarre moment I had was reassuring the anxious [Some Latino] embassy in the middle of the night that the UK tabloid news link they sent me had about as much basis in reality as a Harry Potter film.

 

I think over the weekend I was starting to accept the governing strangeness of this new not-quite-reality.  I even ignored the Australian and New Zealand media spinning things up after some off-the cuff rhetoric bomb directed at the bottom of the planet.  My mum has at least stopped texting me just to make sure I’m not under siege after the daily evening news back home.

 

This week started feeling like rationality might just win out as I saluted flags and gallant veterans at traditional commemorations of Commonwealth heroism in South Korea 66 years ago.

 

The poignancy of the Last Post at dawn today reminded all of us of the ANZAC sacrifice to ensure the civilized, rational world we really do live in after all.  A world so civilized that a US General getting angry that I was handing him the wrong commemorative wreath – because the Korean General jumped the line – was the biggest concern of my day.  I sat down to breakfast with the other ANZACs in our dress uniforms, with a splash of Irish in our coffees in tribute to our predecessors, and the world was rational.

 

But then I read the text you’d sent me while those wreath Generals were shuffling for commemorative positions – and the whole world flipped upside down, inside out.  Irrational.   Nonsensical. To read just 100 or so characters that include ‘VBIED’ and ‘KIA’ takes stopped my heart.

 

‘Don’t worry, I’m ok’.  I’m hanging onto those four words because they are the only reason my heart started to beat again.  I cannot express how relieved I am that you’re safe.  Please stay safe you.  Please.  I need you to be here, in all this craziness, for this world to make any sense.

Captain America and Patthew McConaughey

Those boys may be loud, obnoxious and intentionally politically incorrect… but they’re our loud, obnoxious, inappropriate American heathens.

Hey you.

Its 6 weeks now since you left Seoul, 4 weeks since you landed over there in the thick of things.  It feels like a lot longer.  6 weeks without you feels much more like 6 months to me right now.  Time slows down some times when things aren’t so much fun.  But when I think about it, time slows down sometimes when things are really really great.  6 weeks after we did that awesome Tinder match, 4 weeks after we met, it really felt like we’d spent a lot longer together.  Admittedly, I think you stayed over just about every night after those Singapore Slings hiding out in a rainstorm, but I honestly can’t believe we had only known each other for about 3 weeks when you took me out for dinner to meet your friends.  And then at only 4 weeks I was on an island in the Phillipines with you, [Captain America] and [Patthew McConaughey].  On the plane ride out, I remember worrying that I could have been making a big mistake joining a boy’s holiday only 4 weeks in.

 

I’m not gonna lie – I was pretty terrified.

 

Because that first night meeting the boys was a disaster.  Don’t get me wrong – I was ecstatic that you wanted to take me out with all the guys.  That’s a good sign.  A very good sign that you were thinking things were going as well as I thought it was – the ‘meet the friends step’ was your suggestion and it came really early on .  And I was convined it would be easy for me to charm and befriend a bunch of alpha male pilots – I’ve been doing that most of my adult life.

 

I just didn’t factor in the ‘American’ part to that bunch of pilots.

 

En masse, you lot were a shock to the system.  An extra gallon of ‘alpha’ and a volume notch – or 3 – up on ‘stiff upper lip’ RAF pilots.  A juddering earth quake of ego increase compared to laid back Kiwi aircrew.  I was seriously wondering how we could keep seeing each other.  There was no way that I could ever get on with these loud American dudes who couldn’t go two sentences down a subject line that wasn’t something to do with the US Army, flying helicopters or some obscure American pop culture reference.  My best efforts to break through the boy talk – even to get a couple of attendant girlfriends to join on any other subject – was absolutely in vain. [Patthew McConaughey] and [Captain America] were smashing through every other conversation at that table – streaming obscenity-laced insults at you and each other that made me wonder what the hell I’d gotten myself into.  And its not like I’m new to laddish banter and locker room language.  I remember now that [Cambridge Grad LT] and [Nice Girlfriend] were sitting opposite me and not even trying to break through the diatribe (I just thought they were quiet – now I know they’re just used to letting you guys run out of steam).  I know that [Danger 2] and [Korean Beauty] were there but I don’t even think I managed to introduce myself to them.  I remember sitting in the car driving back in shocked silence.  I laugh when I think about how you broke that silence – because you totally knew that that those guys were going to be in ‘shock and awe’ mode that night.  “Yeah, sorry about that.  That was awkward”.  You could totally have warned me out.  I’m wondering now if that was some sort of a test to see if I had it in me to battle back and break through into your circle…

 

Guess you didn’t know yet who you were dealing with.

 

Only a week and a half later, I was sitting on that plane bound for the Philippines, crashing the boys’ trip.  Challenge accepted.  I never told you this – but I was just telling myself that if it got really bad, I could always just go hide in the resort’s spa.  (And I hate massages, so that tells you how much I liked you).

 

I think [Patthew McConaughey] and [Captain America] were impressed with my cahunas for coming along at all, at least enough to cut me a little slack.  Or maybe the different setting made them less focussed on the boy talk and made them open to actual conversations I could join.  Potentially I was helped by the group agreement that anyone talking about work was buying the next round of drinks (cunningly packaged as their idea, I might add).  Then again, it could have been just the shear amount of alcohol.  But from day one in the sunshine at that resort, I was included.  I’m not sure when I moved from included to accepted.  Maybe it was after the dive trip, with lunch on the James Bond-worthy tropical island restaurant.  Or after I laughed and joined in on the beach volleyball, played along to the blaring Top Gun soundtrack (not just ironically – I know you were secretly loving the association, not to mention the attention 😉 ).

 

Or maybe it was when I happily tried to mount inflatable unicorns with you and [Captain America], surrounded by mountains of foam and with pumping house music blasting across the sundrenched rave pool party while [Patthew McConaughey] laughed and ordered another pitcher of margaritas.

 

By the time we dragged our hungover selves back to the airport, you and I were ridiculously sun tanned and more than a little bit ridiculously besotted with each other.  [Patthew McConaughey] and [Captain America] may have both been seriously grumpy, and regretting leaving the resort for the local culinary delight of ‘goat pizza’ on the last night, but they were still relentlessly tearing us to shreds for our public displays of affection.  That made me even happier.  Because those insults were equally aimed at me.

 

Little did we all know that those alcohol-soaked four days in the Philippine sunshine would be the beginning of such a beautiful friendship – you, me, [Captain America] and [Patthew McConaughey].  Those boys may be loud, obnoxious and intentionally politically incorrect at every opportunity for greatest outrage – but they’re our loud, obnoxious, inappropriate American heathens.  Our nine months together wouldn’t have been half as much fun without them.