Early Morning Conversation in Baltimore-Waiting for a Flight
I was sitting alone in a Baltimore Airport Bar....early morning, waiting for my flight....and a young soldier walked up to my table......
"Mind if I sit here? The bar is kind of full."
"No problem, man. Have a seat. I'm just hanging out."
"I've been flying all night. Hope you don't mind if I have a beer. I know it's early but it's been a long night."
"No problem with me....I might even join you! My flight is delayed because of weather down south....just trying to get home."
"Me too", he said....but I knew with his words, there was more to this statement. This guy had not seen home for a long time. And that's all he was looking for.
"Where've you been?", I asked....knowing what the answer would be....and hoping I was wrong.
"Iraq, man. 2 years for me. I've got a kid that I saw when he was born......he's walking now.....and I've never seen that, other than the pictures my wife could sneak through."
"Wow! How do you feel about that?"
He took a sip of his beer...and paused for a minute.
"I'm a little scared, man! I mean, you know....not the kind of scared like when I was in Iraq......it's different, you know?"
I took my last sip of coffee.....and waited for him to continue.
"You know.....it's kind of weird. I never pictured myself as a Dad....but here I am.....and I haven't been there. I haven't been there at all. I mean....what is the kid gonna think about me?"
"I think you'll know what to do when you finally meet up with him."......I had no idea what I was saying.
"That's easy enough to say......but when I touch down in Charlotte and see my girl....and my little man.....well....what do I do?"
I ordered this guy another beer......and one for me.....I could tell this wasn't gonna be easy.
"Be yourself.......give your wife a long hug and kiss......and take that boy in your arms.....it'll all come to you after that."
He paused for a minute.....took a sip of his new beer and sat there. The silence was deafening.
"Man, I don't know.....never been there. I mean, I'm a veteran but I just can't relate to the hell you've been through.....and now you're coming home!"
"You're a veteran? Cool! When did you serve?"
"'78 to '82.....Navy. Iran hostage situation"
"Wow! That's before I was born! I read about that in History Class"
"Sorry, man. I mean....well you sort of understand....right?"
I couldn't lie to this guy....it was different.
"No, man. I can't."
"Oh......ok......but you can see my concerns, right?"
"Yup.....I'm a guy just like you.....and life scares the shit out of me......even though I've not been in a war."
"It ain't the war, man.....it's my kid. Will he understand me down the road?"
I took a sip of beer and thought for a moment......and thought again.
"He will.....you just have to talk to him.....from your first day and going on...and don't forget your wife.....she's been there too!"
We took our last sips of beer.....he picked up his bag and I picked up my laptop.
"You good?", I asked.
"Yea, man....thanks for the seat....and the beer. I think I'm gonna be ok. I hope so, anyway."
"You will be....."....and I started to turn to my exit.....
"Hey man.....thanks. I don't think I could face this last flight without you letting me taking that seat."
"That seat is always waiting for a man in fear........and you'll beat that fear and find love in North Carolina."
"Peace my friend....I'll probably never see you again....but I'll never forget you.....you're ok."
"Peace to you, my friend.....now go find your love......and your son."
I left for Gate D17.....my new-found friend left for life.
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