The Military Path
I remember my father taking me to the movies when I was 10 years old. I remember looking up to him and seeing his expressions while he talked. I remember him being a very strong man, one that always stressed the righteous path of living, but contradict it by drinking alcohol and always had a bad temper.
As I got older, I noticed that he was different, as well I was different. Different in the way we talked and express ourselves. It was my first time I found out that I wasn't 100% Dominican, but also something else. ( another blog to discuss social issues). 14 years old and drawing as usual, I remember asking him about his past. He shared with me unique experiences about his life in Costa Rica, and of his tough up bringing (way too much to tell but I guarantee you will know about it.). This sharing of stories really got me feeling some pride for him and of what I was made of. Cool stuff I thought. What was really "cool" was when he accidental blurted out that he was in the Marines.
Wow, was I taken by surprise. Marines? What made you to join papo? He said he wanted to get out of his country and have a brand new life of adventure and also establish his independence in the North American, New York. What better way to say that he was proud to be a US citizen was to join a military branch. He asked a stranger what was the toughest military brand, and Marines was the reply.
Years passed, and I grew older. My art got better and unique, but those stories of his youth that my dad often told me, always lingered in my imagination. Around this time, I was also dating a friend from high school who eventually enlisted to the Army. I was invited to see his graduation ceremony, and it was my very first time that I actually saw military people. I have to say I was so drawn to the way of life style and rough training, that I found myself memorized. The unity and the tough sounding of communication between soldier and drill sergeants was so powerful and impressionable, that I caught myself so engaged at their every move. My eyes couldn't blink. I was fixated on the beat of the troops, that I too felt so much pride in being the daughter of a soldier. In my mind, I told myself I can do this. I already had martial arts training, how easy it could be for me to just train my body and mind in a totally different way.
I was very naive at first in the realism of life of a soldier and their purpose of their training. All the stories were fantasies and so thrilling, that life and death didn't appear real, but fictional as in TV or stories in books and comics. Although my dad did express some discomfort in telling some rare but never to be repeated stories, it still didn't appear real. I disguise it with the non so important stuff, like the physical training, the excitement of doing something that your mind and body hasn't been placed before, the forced feeling of placing your entire body to its limits. That kind of stuff filled my head. Politics appeared like issues that only "grown- ups " should handle. So I didn't stress it especially during the WAR times, and why is the real purpose of a soldier was. It simply didn't matter to me at that particular time. When returning home, I was impressed visually and emotionally by the ceremony that it stayed in my mind for some weeks. Then again it died out.
School, and Art. And how the military join the two well in my path in life.
Once I reach a time where I had to decide what High school to enroll, I went to a period of hibernation, mentally and as well physically. I was really stressed because I really wanted to do good in school. It was all that my dad talked about. Weeks passed and I had a time limit as to select the school I wanted to go. I pondered a lot. I then retreated to a church on Sunday morning, and I left there feeling totally different. I felt like a new girl. I knew in my heart where and what I wanted to do in life. Art. I was blessed to have had the experience of been given a scholarship. I thought I had this scholarship for the 4 years of school, but I sadly found out that the scholarship was for one semester. I was surprise and so sad. I didn't want to quit because I couldn't afford it. What could I do? Before I had the chance to make a drastic decision, I "accidental" bumped into a friend that enlisted into the military. She told me all about G.I. Bill and how the military gave her money back for just enrolling for 3 years plus. She looked great and appeared so strong. That impressed me tremendously that I decided to go to a Marines recruiter, and make my dad proud. Another week past and that same friend expressed how she really wanted to join the Army National Guard because a soldier under war time, will remain in the States and also work part time as a weekend warrior. I was happy, finally something that I liked to do, something that made my father happy, something that can help me in school. All for the name of ART.