Thursday, May 27, 2010
It's hot and humid in DC today, the stifling, oppressive heat that I usually associate with August. At this time of year, it won't last. It's a pre-quel to the late summer weather we're famous for here in the capital swamp.
Naturally I don't dismiss these conditions according to simple meteorological explanations, not only because it's "too early," but also because of the timing. Memorial Day is just around the corner.
On the way here to celebrate their day of rememberance are Vietnam vets, such a crusty bunch of dudes: wrinkly, hairy, careworn and sunburned. For me, the grumble of Rolling Thunder is a sure sign that summer is about to begin. As well, the last of the WWII vets will show up, many in wheel chairs or using walkers. In contrast to the Vietnam vets, they are smooth skinned, well groomed, carefully shaved. It's an interesting juxtaposition that no doubt says something about the generations themselves, but also speaks to the energy of those two very different wars. The WWII generation is on the verge of passing away; may the energy of the Holocaust finally unwind when the last of them is laid to rest, please!
Along with the living vets, throngs of dead soldiers stream into the city at this time of year. They gather at the memorials on the National Mall, as if waiting for orders. I associate this kind of excessive heat and humidity with the gathering of the dead. Too many ghosts, no matter what the temperature is, create an oppressive feeling in the air.
Once upon a time I thought I could help them cross over or find their way to the light. I overwhelmed myself many a time trying. My goodness I was ambitious. These days when they cluster around me, I tell them to go look for their grandparents. I believe the ancestors also gather in DC for Memorial Day. I believe they come here so they can lead the ghosts out of whatever loop they're tracing, take them onwards and upwards to a place of healing and renewal. All the ghosts have to do is notice, and ask for help. But since ghosts are kind of stoned (don't ask me why), sometimes they don't get it.
Ironically my subway ride today (I'm heading into the Commonwealth to go see the osteopath) rolls right underneath Arlington National Cemetery. Maybe I'll stop on the way home, wander through that well ordered, respectful place and say hello. Though no longer so codependent to soldier ghosts, I still really enjoy their company. Might as well say hi, sit around sweating and telling jokes, yes? Why not?