Virtual Bourgeois

Just An Analog Guy Trying to Upgrade For a Digital World

A Homecoming

Posted by Gerald on November 7, 2009

Rather than discussing why I haven’t been writing, I’m just going to dive in…

This week I witnessed one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever seen.  Before I begin the story, I should note that I’ve had a long-standing policy of not naming people who haven’t named themselves or given me permission to name them in these posts.  I hope in this way to maintain some privacy for those around me.  This does require some circumlocution, however.

To set the stage I need to mention – or remind – readers that I have a friend and colleague whose husband is an officer in the National Guard and that he has been deployed to Iraq for several months.  I was in that friend’s office Thursday afternoon with some other folks.  We were sharing our general lack of desire to do anything work-related (it seems to have been a particularly low-motivation week here in Lake Woebegone Community College).  Right then, my friend got an incomplete text message and then a call from her husband, so we all cleared the room.  A few minutes later she came out and told us that he was “somewhere where he could see the campus on a satellite” and that although he wasn’t supposed to, he wanted her to go out to the fountain in the center of campus so he could take a picture.  This became a group thing very quickly.  Two of my other colleagues even worked up a sign.  At just before 3 pm local (the appointed time) we headed out.

No – even then I didn’t get suspicious.  I was wondering a couple of things.  First, how this whole thing was supposed to be timed.  I mean, were we just going to wave upwards for several minutes?  Still, he is a smart guy and I thought he would probably text her again at the appropriate moment.  I also was wondering which direction we should be looking in.  After all, it is a big sky out there and the chances this thing was directly overhead – and in a geosynchronous orbit – were slight, so it was bound to be at an angle to us.  Still, I wasn’t suspicious.

Yes, there is none so blind as he who will not see.  Somewhere, Occam was laughing his ass off.

So, seven of the faculty and staff of our fine institution, including your humble narrator, spread around the fountain and began waving at the empty blue sky.  A few onlookers seemed rather curious – as well they might at such a spectacle.  Right then a soldier walked up beside me and spoke to my friend.

Nope, I still wasn’t there…

Despite the fact that this man was about eighteen inches from me, it wasn’t until my friend started screaming and then crying that I recognized him.  Her husband had come back from Iraq on leave without telling anyone and had set this whole thing up to surprise her.

I just laughed – mostly at me – but also with the sheer joy of the whole thing.  It was clever, funny, romantic, and beautiful.  I don’t think the rest of us were supposed to be invited out for the photo op, and weren’t supposed to see all of this.  I felt a little like a voyeur looking at something I shouldn’t, or that I was sharing in something that wasn’t mine.  Still, it was so good to see her happy and so good to see him back that I can’t feel anything but privileged to have been a witness to that moment.

May there soon be tens of thousands more moments like it  all over this country.

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3 Responses to “A Homecoming”

  1. Rebecca said

    Oh my God! I can’t stop weeping right now. It’s so hard to type with tears of that kind of happiness coming out of my eyes. I am so happy for both of them. Thanks for sharing this story. It was well-written. Tell her when you see her that I am profoundly moved. And give my best to our fellow friend, the soldier and his wonderful wife.

  2. imfunny2 said

    This has got to be the most beautiful piece I’ve read in awhile.

    Thank you.

  3. Great story. It would be cool if soldiers who were still over there could actually set up photographs like the one that you were fooled into believing was actually happening.

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