Wednesday, October 28, 2009

And...we're back!!

Note to self: Never follow months and months of working 7 days a week with a 3-day wedding extravaganza, and a 2-week trip traveling state-to-state all through the south again...because you WILL get a horrible, debilitating cold. Got it. Never again.

Yes, Gita and I enjoyed our first two screenings on the Southern Circuit Film Tour. We enjoyed our two free days in Nashville. We flew to Alexandria, Louisiana on day 5, and promptly got sick. Me first and then Gita-- both with bad colds that we are just now beginning to recover from. Let me tell you, nothing cures a cold faster than constant travel...lots of airplanes and driving.

It started with a sore throat in Alexandria. But with our biggest crowd on the tour-- a really great, engaged audience-- it was easy to look past it. We were told before the screening that a soldier had called the venue, saying he had been through Bangor and been greeted by the Maine Troop Greeters, and was planning to attend the show. During our Q&A, he stood up and recounted his experience traveling through Bangor, saying he remembered how nice my Mom had been to him. After the Q&A, he introduced himself as Bobby Strother and said he had a gift he wanted to send back to the troop greeters with us. We agreed to meet him the next morning so he could bring us the gift before we hit the road to New Orleans. The next morning we met Bobby in front of the local drug store after stocking up on cold medicine and tissues. Bobby handed me a large triangular wooden box with a glass front. A perfectly folded American flag rested behind the glass, and an engraved plaque read...

This was no normal gift...a unit coin, a thank you card, no-- this was something Bobby had laid his life on the line for. Something that represented everything Bobby loved about America, and he talked to us for a long time about just that, and about how tough it is to come back after serving and having to re-adjust, and about friends getting divorced, and about friends dying, and about how if he had to go back again he'd pack his bag and leave tomorrow because serving his country was worth it. He said, "when we're over there we're wearing our vests which are about 75 lbs. and all our gear and we carried two weapons, so you're talking about 100 lbs of gear...we had a lot of weight we were carrying with us over there."...And it just made me think about watching the troops walk down the ramp over and over again at the Bangor International Airport and seeing them breathe a big sigh of relief at the sight of the troop greeters, and the flags waving, and the smiles welcoming them home, and how it really is "that moment" when the weight of it all is finally lifted off their shoulders. I can't wait to get back to Bangor to pass along Bobby's gift.

Tomorrow, I'll spare you the most boring trip to New Orleans ever, as we spent the entire time in our hotel room coughing and sneezing, and I'll skip ahead to our screenings in Alabama and Mississippi and the story of "Big Joe" Evans going for the oyster eating record. How can you not be excited?!