September 20, 2009

Yesterday Homie Bear reminisced about the journey we took together that started five years ago and from which I never returned. Visit Homie's Woods to see photos of our LOTR-themed adventures and to visit his blog archives where he tells all about the trip from home through the beauty of Malaysia to Singapore and finally through Middle-Earth. Or "New Zealand" as they like to call it here.

I won't re-invent the wheel by writing my own version. When it comes to giving a candid well-written glimpse into reality, Homie is The Man. Er, The Bear. Whatever.

But I will add to his retrospective. Just one thing.

That's Damian Lewis as Major Richard Winters and Ron Livingston as Captain Lewis Nixon in Band of Brothers. It's difficult to explain in any sort of concise form exactly what these characters meant to our journey. It's... you know, I'll let an excerpt of my journal do the talking here.

"September 17
Homie and I were discussing, as usual, Band of Brothers. We had just arrived in a crowded little pre-boarding lounge after a mad dash through US Customs with our bags. Twenty minutes from plane to plane is not a lot of time when you factor in angry Texans, disgruntled customs agents, and Chinese ladies walking on the baggage carousel. Pretty sure the 'KEEP OFF' sign wasn't referring to the floor. We did make it, however. ... we had a moment to sit and assess our boarding passes and discovered that Homie was assigned 13C while I had 13B. We decided to find Band of Brothers alter-egos beginning with 'B' and 'C'. We came up with Blithe and Carwood when the lanky sandal-wearing redhead opposite us joined in our conversation briefly. After boarding and sitting, Homie realized that our new friend was really far more Blithe than I so I became Buck and we told Blithe as he passed our row that we'd given him his own Band of Brothers name. He was genuinely honored. It was kind of funny. Much later we bumped into him again at the Malaysia Air counter. We are now a threesome until Kuala Lumpur and we share no names other than those of Easy Company. Buck, Carwood, and Blithe braving the trenches of LA before Carwood and I are dispatched to save orangutans and Blithe moves on to Mumbai. For now, though, we are one. (And I'm the ranking officer.)"

Then later...

"September 10
Over the second cup of seriously the most delicious coffee, Homie and I came to the all-important decision of promotion. Buck and Carwood were fine aliases during travel (what Homie refers to as the infantry portion of the trip) but now that we're arrived and in command of our own destinies, we need higher ranks. Thus Homie becomes Winters and I take on the identity of Nixon."

It was in no way meant to belittle the harrowing and fiercely inspiring stories told in Band of Brothers but in our own way was a small tribute. When you're far away from home on foreign soil with only your pack on your back, the bond that forms between you and your traveling companion is necessarily a close one. Homie and I were friends before we left but I daresay our travels gave us a better understanding of each other by far and definitely cemented that friendship in the kind of memories you only make when you are relying on each other for navigation and sanity. Winters and Nixon had a lot of adventures together in Malaysia and especially New Zealand where they enabled us to get un-lost in a wilderness of grass and rock formations and to keep a sense of humor about the whole thing besides.

Thanks for the memories, Homie! And, to quote Golden Girls, thank you for being a friend. (Look, they both focus on friendship, okay? It's a tenuous link but I think it's warranted.)

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