One thing my Nashville blogger buddies know about me that I don't mention too often here: I'm a U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Whew, that's a mouthful.
I hadn't been back to visit USMA (as it is more briefly called) since 2008, when I saw a friend who would be killed in action in Afghanistan just a couple of years later while I was deployed to Iraq. We'd lived in the same dorms for three years together. His name was Sal Corma, and he was 24 years old. He was an only child with an infectious smile and the most polite and genuinely kind person you'd ever meet.
Recently, I had a chance to return with friends to my alma mater. One of the first things we did was visit the cemetery. As my friend JH guided me to Sal's grave (the headstones were beautifully decorated with wreaths from Wreaths Across America for the holidays) I noticed that I knew so many of the other names in that corner of the cemetery. JH and I were suddenly overwhelmed with tears, something I hadn't been expecting at all. I won't even list all of the names here because there are so many, people I used to see at meals, in the hallways, in class. It's just too much sometimes, and I have started to understand why I'm not as open here about it as I am other things in my life.
Visiting West Point was the oddest feeling... It felt like I was coming back after Christmas break to put on the uniform and start classes again, and it was strange not to walk past the signs into the cadet areas.
After visiting the cemetery, I wanted to see the new library, which was being built when I graduated. I wanted to see it. It was much more modern-looking to me than other buildings, but I think over time the stone will age and blend in. I even had a chance to chat with a cadet who was standing guard, and while our experiences are very different they also sounded very similar.
Another plus of visiting West Point is that so many people I know are living and working around the school. I went to Andy's Restaurant, an old brunch hangout of mine, to meet with a few girls I ran cross country with during my freshman and sophomore years. It was so neat to see everyone years later!
|Reunion at Andy's Restaurant|
I had such a good time just being at home with them, even though JH did have me help with a little drywall and it went in my EYE and I don't do that stuff OMG. I picked up cooking tips from J, we took Elle to see Frozen (so good!), and we had a really great visit. I didn't realize how much I'd missed them until I was there, then I didn't want to leave! They've also done such an amazing job renovating their home. It's a Before/After dream.
|Yeah, I need to correct the red-eye but whatever.|
|A real fire and Peanut loves it.|
I had a fantastic trip... and then I caught a direct flight to San Francisco. To be continued...
P.S. I also stopped very briefly in NYC to surprise my cousin Suzy! If you're into yoga, or think you might want to start, you should check out her website or Facebook especially if you're in NYC.
P.P.S. You might have noticed I no longer feature my Before I'm 30 bucket list. Well, I thought I'd briefly mention why. 26-year-old me loved the idea of doing 100 silly things before I'm 30, but almost-29-year-old doesn't even want to do most of those things anymore. While it has been enjoyable and fun to chase those "goals", they just aren't aligned to where I am in life no. Tant pis, c'est la vie, que sera sera. I'm happier pursuing the here & now, and I'm lucky enough to have an amazing life happening without a list!