The long grey line

I’ve been harboring this secret for a while, and considering how non-consistent I am about my blogging it’s no surprise.

I made it to the Long Grey Line. My goal for the past two years, through all the pain, all the trials and lessons, has paid off. But I cannot let those memories go and I cannot let them define me.

I’m privileged and blessed. All I can do is think that my father made it, but because of a disease, he could not go. He’s now living vicariously through myself as I grow into a young woman with dreams turning into realities.


In what I thought was going to be a quick study into another religion to strengthen the beliefs of my own, I find myself realizing that both religions are the same; they have a different name for things. Still, one wants me to give up some cultural traditions and the other does not.

As a child who loves to travel and banter, I do not know how much I will adhere to this promise. I may curb some of the habit but not all of it as I fully intend to keep my former religion at hand and learn the Gospel from two perspectives.

The beach

Day 3:

I wake up early in the morning from three alarms and get myself ready. I have my hair bands on my arms and I fumble with my hair only to suddenly try something different.

I’m wearing it down today.

I then proceed to walk the ten minutes to the mall on the border of two countries and wait impatiently for the stores to open. In the meantime my phone is brimming with messages I don’t get on a normal basis.

People want to see me. I walk through the stores and some of my favorite songs are playing and people start turning heads. One young man’s eyes lock with mine and he smiles. I smile back but disappear before he can say anything.

I regret that. Honestly.

I then am picked up by some friends to go to a beach I lived my childhood in. Its nothing like the black sand beaches of home but a beach is a beach and today I feel bold.

My hair is down and I’m not wearing board shorts. I’m walking around and a kind young man starts a conversation with me and I throw it back at him. Were laughing and joking and I begin to realize it’s easier than I thought. Maybe I can be confident.

My friends say goodbye to me and put me on a train where I sit in front of a college student who plays tennis and is too thin for his own good. No conversation is made but he shakes my chair a lot throughout the ride. I’m pretty sure he’s unaware of the disturbance he’s causing me and I’m too shy to say anything. He gets off before I do and I realize that in the three hours I was on the train I could have tried to say something.

I mean that’s what this trip was for. For me to find my voice in a foreign state.

I get off the train and am peddled by a man. I pretend I am a French traveler and I wave down a random car so that it looks like I’m leaving. Its about midnight and my ride finally shows up and it’s a teary-eyed reunion.

I’m not four anymore. I’m almost twenty-one but they only see and remember me as a four-year-old and that’s fine. I’m growing up.

The train ride

Day 2:

I find myself awake at three in the morning completely and utterly confused. I’m not tired. But I will be. I get ready lightning fast and run to catch my shuttle.

I get on my shuttle and I knock out. I’ve missed my stop at the end of the line. A testament to my life. The conductor is actually getting off duty and he offers to take me to my destination on the other side of the city – for a price.

I decide to take him up on this offer. I’m getting in a car with a man who barely speaks English, is older than me, And potentially could do horrible things to me because he controls what happens to me.

Reluctantly, I accept, but remain wary. My fingers dangle on my knife and I try to keep my nervousness hidden.

He drives like a maniac and is trying to talk to me.

I’m lucky I have forty dollars in my pocket.

When he parks at the station I give him my forty dollars and pray to God that I don’t have to pay for anything else that day.

And just my luck. The train is delayed by forty five minutes. I’m sitting there contemplating everything. Thankful for the kindness these strangers have shown me but also relieved that I’m not only getting to my destination in southern California but I’m safe.

I get there and immediately my uncle recognizes me and runs to me to hug me. Its at this moment my phone goes off a lot.

People know I’m here and want to see me. I spend most of the day sleeping and the other parts trying to find these people.

Trip from hell

Day 1 of being a nomad:

As a young traveler, my father instilled in me the most basic of concepts in regards to traveling: have a plan, be on time.

From this I’m actually very good at planning ahead but sometimes plans go awry. Yesterday was not exception; in fact yesterday was the complete culmination.

I began the day eager to move. My heart was singing and my legs kicking. My restless spirit was on the move from 0400 to 1700. I couldn’t sit still.

I went to the airport and sat at the terminal with no problem. My flight was on time.

I was greeted by a man and his two kids. His wife sat with them leaving him with myself and a stranger. He seems like a nice man but unfortunately when he opened his mouth my eyes watered. I would lull myself to sleep to be awoken by his mouth opening and closing.

Its a six hour flight and I’m landing at 1000. I have a train to catch on the other side of the city at 0615. I need every minute of sleep I can get.

So I get off the plane grab my bag and head to the bus terminals. My instructions are a bit nebulous but I go with my gut: my hotel is near the station. I put my tunes on and I wait watching the scenery pass me by.

Suddenly, I have the urge to pull up my maps application. As we pull into the station I call my dad asking him where the hotel is.

“By the airport.”

Its already about 11. I have to wake up in five hours and with the time difference from New York to California I’m only two hours away from pulling an all-nighter.

The drivers take pity on me and give me two free tickets to and from the station. I get off the bus exhausted, frustrated and confused. I get on the shuttle to my hotel. Its about 1200 now. I have to wake up in four hours.

I get to the hotel and there’s probably about forty people in the reception line. My dad tells me to go express and show my military ID. I do that and my credit card is declined. No rhyme or reason. Its about 1230 now.

I’m debating at this point if it’s even worth it to sleep.

My dad steps in to pay but I’m frustrated. I make my own paycheck and my parents shouldn’t have to help. I’m embarrassed. Especially since I’m throwing a small fit.

I have been up for twenty-four hours.

I get to the room and I call my bank which is closed for the day. I have to call tomorrow. I decide to take the quickest shower I’ll get out and wake up at 0300 because I suddenly realize that if the shuttle leaves every twenty minutes with a ten minute ride and the bus to the train station leaves every thirty and it’s a forty five minute ride I need to get up as early as possible.

So I set every electronic in the room to wake me up at 0300. No make up. I need my sleep.

I do get up at 0300 and I pack and get ready. I feel refreshed. I have enough time for a nap. Which is wonderful because the phone to wake me up goes off at 0400, effectively allowing me to leave earlier than I intended.

Here’s to hoping for a better second day!

The nomad

Coming Friday, I will be moving a lot. I will be across the country and I will be traveling virtually non-stop. Placing myself every night in a new home and finding peace and serenity there.

It’s stuff like this when I think to myself that this nomadic aspect, this inability to be tied down scares men.

I know what I want, but I also don’t know what I want. I’m healing and broken and I move around a lot because I have an open mind.

I wonder if I’ll ever meet someone who will hold me down.

A visit

I spent the day in the hospital yesterday, talking to old friends and meeting new ones. Things haven’t changed much since I left; except they’re more gloomy.

“Mem, you’re the only reason why I want to stay here for the next four years. You’re going to grow up and we want to be there.”

I smile, there’s not much I can say. All I can do is grow, grow, grow.

I save my last visit to a ward, one of my friends is there and I sit across from him on a chair. I didn’t know he was there until a little bird flew to me. I went and sat there until he woke up.

“I’m surprised.”


“I thought no one would visit me. I didn’t tell anyone I was here.”

“You know, you’re one of my better friends; why wouldn’t I?”

“You are probably the nicest person in the world. You’re my only visitor and I feel as though it’ll stay that way.”

“I doubt it.”

“Why Mem?”

“You’re a good person, you’re patient, you’re kind.”

“Mem, say that and look into the mirror. You’re everything you just described and more. You have no idea.”


I always worried that if I ever got hurt and ended up in the hospital no one would visit me. I keep that thought at the back of my mind. I make an effort each time I hear and I call my friends letting them know I have a friend that deserves the very best.

I cried about it once. I was convinced nobody would visit. Until my own visit to the hospital. Each day I’m welcomed with smiles and hugs, and even on the gurney someone was professing how much I meant to him. My heart was breaking and suddenly I was healing.

It took a visit to the hospital, an act of kindness, in order for me to realize that I matter.