The Blue Angels skipped like stones across the blue sky above Corpus Christi bay in 1971 when I was seven and in gaped awe.
I have not thought of this for over thirty-five years until this moment. I have
not thought of the lines of flat bed trucks rolling down Saratoga Boulevard in 1971, broken helicopters strapped on like the dragon flies we plucked the wings off in the muddy water in the ditch that crossed through Country Club Estates. The war, Viet Nam, brought them, the broken helicopters, to the Naval Air Station for repair or scrap. I never knew. It was all I knew first hand of the war.
The black and white TV in the den created memories of the war, like TV dinners create a meal. The trucks and the matte black or green broken helicopters, however, seared the dread of the war in to me. They made me a pacifist.
I have not thought of the new navy pilots practicing touch and go landings at Cabiness Field on Saratoga Boulevard. I am watching them (again, now) as we passed on the back way to school, downtown near the hospital. The sun up, my dad‘s coffee steaming, the planes looping through their turns over browning sorghum fields alternating with cotton fields, bolls bending the little plants down like ornaments on Charlie Brown‘s Christmas tree. I sometimes thought of them that way, the cotton bolls.
I have not thought of the coffee house my older sisters would go to during the war time, the hippie time, at Six Points in downtown Corpus Christi. They would go to help the heroin addicts I think. I don‘t know. They were all gone by the time I was able to properly explore Six Points. The addicts remained. I remember the coffee houses my sisters went to and I never went to them. I have a picture of them and what happened there and none of that happened, what I remember, but I have just thought of that and it is as real as the helicopters to me and what it meant to me is real…being nine and my sister heroes eighteen and nineteen.
I experience my life in the dream of memory. The dream is all I have after this moment and this one and the forgetting begins now. They feel exactly the same, dreams and memories: the willowy edges, the compression of time and the expansion, the vapor trails.