‘Tis the Season
No, it isn’t Christmastime, not by a long shot. It’s spring, only you couldn’t tell it by looking out the window–that is, if there were any windows around here. How come I seem to land in jobs that don’t have windows? My last several positions were in buildings without windows. We joke in my civilian job that the world could come to an end and we’d never know it because we’re down in the basement without windows. It’s too much of a hassle to go up top unless it’s time to leave, so we sit down there all day long completely oblivious to what is going on out there.
What I miss most about the U.S. are the seasons. Ever since I was a child, I’ve had this thing about seasons. We were always stationed in places that didn’t have seasons. It was either hot or fucking hot in all the random places that Sam sent my father. When we were in Japan, we had Christmas at the beach. Who does that? People who live on islands. We had chili peppers on our Christmas tree one year when we were in Arizona. That sucked too. People decorate palm trees in Florida. That’s even worse.
I was prompted to move to Maryland for financial reasons and because of its varying seasons. They have all four, which was completely new to me when I went. My friends think I’m nuts because I go leaf-peeping in autumn, when the leaves are changing colours. I made my BFFs come with me to Shenandoah one year. They didn’t really see the appeal because they grew up in the area. Every place I ever lived before Maryland, the leaves stayed on the trees all year round. Nothing ever changed.
Like this place. It hasn’t changed since we got here. Oh, it’s getting warmer, but then it was hardly ever cool in the first place. Maybe back in December there were those few days when you actually had to have a jacket on and at night there was a bit of snap in the air. Like a bad relationship, it didn’t last. It’s spring time and it might as well be early summer. Everyday there is a relentless blue sky with one or two puffs of cloud, nothing substantial to block the sun that just beams down on your head like the lamp in your dentist’s office. It’s all so emotionless and empty.
What happened to Mother Nature’s raw emotions? In Florida, there are these vicious spring storms. Already the humidity will be building. It clings to you like cheap perfume. By late afternoon or early evening, the storm clouds have built up, ready for a fight. I was never the kid to be afraid of thunder and lightning. In fact, I’ve always looked forward to it. The First Coast never disappointed. It comes barging in like an angry lover, hellbent on a passionate argument. Sometimes the crying jag lasts all evening and into the night, but most days it spends itself out quickly, leaving you refreshed and glad you hashed it all out. That doesn’t happen here. They say it rains, but I wouldn’t really call it raining. Most times it doesn’t even hit the ground. Sometimes at night you can hear it pouring down the sides of the tent but the next day there is hardly any evidence. All this godforsaken sand has soaked up everything, leaving nothing but a curious stench, like the one time some oranges fell behind my fridge and I couldn’t find them for a month.
There’s whiteouts here, but not whiteouts as in blizzard terms. I am sure there hasn’t been a speck of snow here to be seen. Winter is that time of year that Mother Nature shows her more loving side. A lot of people don’t like the cold, but it brings us together in strange ways. When the days are short and nights are cold and lonely, you seek out company more than any other time. But here, when it is just hot, you don’t even want to be bothered. The sand has blotted out the sun, leaving this weird white thing that you can actually stare at. I discovered today that if the sun were to go out, we wouldn’t find out for eight minutes. So I’d be staring at this white ball of despair for eight minutes before I died. That is a dismal thought.
When I go home I never want to see another grain of sand in my life. A co-worker stated that he was going to spend a month on a beach in the Caribbean. I was never fond of the beach and now I am even less keen to see one ever again, on account of the sand. It’s just sand, sand and more sand and it blows all over the place because of the infernal wind. Do you know how much I hate wind? I know that is utterly ridiculous. Who hates wind? I have always hated wind, especially in the winter when it is cold. I like the cold, but the wind cutting into your very heart, slicing you into ribbons? There’s no chance of that here, but I read somewhere that wind can literally drive people insane. I believe it, because every time the wind blows I want to shoot myself, especially since it brings along the sand. All the safety items in the world cannot reduce the feeling of hysteria that wells up inside me every time I am blasted in the face with sand.
I walked back to the tent tonight and the air was comfortably warm. In another time, in another place, I’d use the opportunity to stroll the National Mall or Times Square or the promenade along the St. John’s. That stretch between the MWR tents and our living quarters is hardly the moonlit path I had in mind. I will say this, the area is good for stargazing. Sometimes on the way back from work, I stop and look up. I try to point out what I can recognise or I marvel at the different phases of the moon. I pick out some distant star and I wonder if there is someone way out there in the uncharted universe looking across the same expanse of mystery and wondering the same thing as I.