36 years ago I started my journey to earn the title of US Marine. No doubt the yellow footprints come to mind but today, I remember a time through all the the chaos of Marine bootcamp that I found even more surreal than the days that started at 0530 with reville blasting and two minutes to be dressed and on the road to chow. It was Firewatch.
For civilian types, firewatch is basically patrolling the squadbay for an hour while the rest of the platoon sleeps. This was a time of self reflection as in “what the hell did I get myself into?” Walking the squadbay, you could hear the sound of your steps on the the always pristine floors blend in with multiple breathing/snores of your platoon brothers. Approaching the lone mirror at the front of the squadbay aka “the classroom”, you didn’t recognize your own reflection as your physical transformation didn’t take place standing in front of a mirror. Your body felt stronger everyday and at this late hour, it longed for sleep.
Five minutes before your watch was up, you woke up your relief. The last five minutes of duty always felt like an hour.
Whether consciously designed as a time for a Marine recruit to be self aware or not, it was an hour in time that I did just that.
Firewatch: Sleep well America, Marines have been on Firewatch since 1775.
Nails clicking waiting. Joelle’s heavily lipsticked full crimson lips stuck together, slowly separating as her jaw dropped. Her warm breath gently billowed into the cool sea air. Finally he had arrived. The loud exhaust of the dilapidated truck deflected and echoed against the stone arch. Turning off the ignition, the engine sputtered on, ending with a small backfire. Not being of similar pedigree, it was obnoxious incidents and sounds like this,in her world would be deemed uncouth but made him all the more interesting.
He sat in the driver’s seat looking at Joelle with a crooked grin. His thin lips quickly pulled back to a display a toothy smile. He reached with his right hand to the outside handle, unlatched his door and stepped out. She had been waiting two long years for his return. Now he was only feet away and it was if she were standing in clay unable to move. He moved towards her, seeing her shiver, removed his woollen dress uniform coat and wrapped it around her shoulders. With his right hand he lowered the tailgate. They sat down looking off into the ocean as they had so years before. He held her close saying, “I told you I’d be back”. She didn’t say a word but took a long deep breath as if to breathe him in. As the wind picked up, his pinned up left sleeve flapped in the breeze reminding him of what he had left on the battlefield. “I told you I’d be back”, he whispered.