Monday, September 1, 2008

"The Other Side of Glory"--September 2nd, 2008

Seemed like only yesterday...
I had a chance to do some "research" for my book, "The Other Side of Glory" this weekend.  This year, my friends from the Marine Corps and I met in Spring, Texas, home of my very good friend-- "Big" George Ledezma. When we started this tradition a few years ago, we all agreed we would change the locale every year, giving each of us a chance to host the meeting and also give everyone else a chance and reason to take a vacation and get away from the horrid plagues of everyday life. And for me personally, all I can say is--it couldn't have happened at any better time...
(Me and my boy, Dennis "Denno" Maund, of Cleveland, Ohio)

The boys and I haven't been together as a group since 1997, when each of us, one by one, started rotating back home and into civilian life, leaving French Creek and our lives as Marines forever.  One by one we slowly arrived at Big George's house...first Ponce and I, as we drove together from Ft. Worth, then  "Denno" flew in with his girlfriend Stacey from Ohio. Apart from Ponce, the rest of us hadn't seen Dennis since 1997. He was just as great and just as soft-spoken as he was in the Corps--no matter what he says.

 
(Me and Steve "Doodie" Velez of Miami, Florida)

Then, when the four of us had just enough alcohol to be late picking up Steve Velez from the airport as they flew in from Miami...well...we picked up Steve and his wife Brenda late from the airport...(Sorry Steve!)  We argued the entire way to Houston International Airport--about the quickest route, which lane to drive in, whether the Cowboys were better than the Texans and lastly, what the hell Steve looked like, as we hadn't seen him at all (any of us) since 1997. We pissed off some patrons on the side of the road, laughing with our heads sticking out the windows like kids, asking if they were Steve or if someone else was him...and then...as we pulled within earshot of security--and a moment before any one of us put our foot in our mouth's--we heard a shout, a familiar call. It was him...our buddy...our friend...our brother...with a little less hair and an attitude the same as he had when we shared a barracks in French Creek.


(Me and Ralph Ponce of Abernathy, Texas)

Within moments of arriving at Big George's home, we were back at it, having our way with words. If any "normal" human being had been around they would have called the cops, a therapist or perhaps even the FED's for the things we were saying. We laughed alot, mostly about the stupid things we did when we were kids, when we were "young" men. So many things came back to mind and more importantly, circumstances and situations I can use for the story, things I almost forgot and others the guys hoped I would forget. The overall consensus however was this: They want me to write this story--their story--every Marine's story--not because they want to be held accountable for their lives back then, but because the essense of who we were when we were younger thrives on knowing it will forever be a part of us. It is the bond that holds us together, even when we have grown up to become union workers, city workers, construction contractors, IT professionals and even writers.

(Me and my boy, Big George Ledezma, of Spring, TX)
We spent the next three days and three nights--between heavy Marine Corps style alcohol consumption--playing spades (or at least trying to), remembering our days in Barracks FC 525 and FC530, our fights with other groups in the Corps and our fights with one another. We remembered a dear friend by the name of Lamar Pompa who passed on after we left the Corps and we remembered names of those we forgot. We discussed the "Magic Place", the off-limits bar that opened after midnight and closed just before sunrise. We remembered all its granduer and mysticism. And a group of Marines having a few drinks wouldn't be complete without the memories of The Driftwood--the highly populated topless bar these guys visited frequently enough to have money taken out of their paychecks on a monthly basis to support their habit of beers and breasts. (I can't believe they would visit such places, but who am I to judge? I am still paying my tab to this day...) We talked about our best times together and we argued still about our worse. We rememberd how badly we wanted to come home and how much we wished to return.
In the end, we had to say good-bye once again, just like we did in 1997. One by one we left, but this time it was different. We were sad, only to leave, but happy knowing the friendships and the bonds we have established over the years IS enough to sustain our lives forever now. We may not see one another for a year at a time, maybe longer as some can't always make it (Mark McManus!!!) But that's the way it goes sometimes. I told my daughter as she just began the 7th grade, that she will face peer pressure from the idiot kids in school who judge others by the clothes they wear or what shoes they have or worse, by how much money their parents make. I told her to ignore those people, because a true friend never judges. Yes, they will hold you accountable for your bullshit, but they never really leave you. Ever.

Walking into Big Geoge's home this weekend was like walking into his barrack's room many years ago. It was crowded, loud and it smelled of dirty men, stale beer breath and cigarette smoke. There were enough profanities to flip Mother Teresa over in her grave and enough friendship to break your heart. I will carry them with me forever and I will write their story as part of "The Other Side of Glory." For their story is my story and perhaps the story of every other Marine who ever dared to dream only to see it broken, hit bottom but did not fail and who knows what it is to believe in Jesus Christ and who isn't afraid to have a drink with the Devil. So with my glass held higher than my pride... I say...as we did back then...

Here's to you...here's to me...friends we'll always be...and if we ever disagree...then fuck you, here's to me!

~Bobby Ozuna
"Drawing Stories...With Words"

13 comments:

23rdflavor said...

Wow! You guys are crazier than ever!! Still even after all the laughter you can still touch peoples hearts by just knowing through you guys what true friends are!! God Bless! Can't wait to read your new book!! So hurry up!


from some friends in Abernathy, TX
Selso and Lulu Torrez

steve.velez said...

Man I have to tell you I went to Houston looking forward to having too much alcohol and remembering some funny stories, but I must say I left feeling exactly what you just wrote, We do have a great bond and I love you guys always, "Only the way one man can love another man" lol. Looking forward to Miami 09.

PONCE said...

To all who did show up. I can not wait till next year."MIAMI BEACH BABY!!!" You guys have all had some influence in the way my life has turned out. And I can not complain, I have a wonderful life and life long friends. Missing you Devil Dogs already. 'Semper Fi"

Bobby Ozuna said...

Mr. & Mrs. Torrez:
I promise you I am writing this book as quickly as I can...and it is more complex than Proud Souls by far!

And yes, crazy is a very good word...

Bobby Ozuna said...

Steve:
I can say this much: we were all looking forward to seeing you again... after we lost touch with you (post 9/11) and you joined the Army...we thought we may have lost you for a while...

I was glad we didn't...but by end of the weekend...I thought...who invited this guy???

Bobby Ozuna said...

Ponce:
Don't pull rank....
Thanks for commenting people! It's nice to know the time you (as a writer) spend finding the right words to convey a situation or an emotion...do not go ignored...

Thank you everyone!

Bobby Ozuna said...

Oh! And by the way gentlemen... if anyone asks why we're wearing the same clothes in all of these pictures... tell them we took the pics on the same day. We would hate for someone to think we didn't bathe for three days straight but instead drank enough alcohol to kill a baby elephant...

Dena Ponce said...

Wow that was great Bobby that made me cry. I remeber spending the summer with my brother and meeting all you guys when I was just 12 yrs old I thought ya'll were all great then. My brother always talks about ya'll about all the crazy stuff and how much he misses ya'll. Can't wait to read the book!!

Love ya,
Dena Ponce

Bobby Ozuna said...

Dena:
In relation to the "can't wait to read the book" comment... well...that's makes two of us!!! The story is developing just the way I want and very soon I will post portions of the chapters but only in draft form.

Please stay posted and don't forget to forward this post to your friends.

MAP said...

Funny, looking at the pics you guys still look the same. The words you wrote expresses the bond and the love you have with the guys. I can just imagine the stories that were told. Friends like this are hard to find. But, like the saying says ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE!!!..... God Bless and can't wait to read the book....

Bobby Ozuna said...

Thank you MAP...
I knew by end of the weekend we would be tired of each other...I mean, come on, it's only natural. Four to six over-bearing, loud-mouthed Jarheads pumping alcohol through their veins and beating their chests like King Kong...all weekend long??? Who wouldn't want to run away? But, I love them. They are my friends...

That is what I hope to capture within "The Other Side of Glory." It is very important for me that any casual reader understands the bonds formed by men working or serving far from home...but in contrast to that statement (remember, this novel is a play on the concepts of Good & Evil)...there will be another side to each character, every setting and the overall essence of the story some might not understand. It will be joyful for as much as it can be mean. It will be loving for as much as it is erotic. It's the way I write and more importantly,its' the way Life truly is...regardless of whether or not the story if Fiction.

Toni Portillo said...

I cant wait to read this book. Man, its great to see friends coming together and reconnecting. The bond of true friendship is great. I WILL be sure to share this with my father. He is the best, you know? Keep me informed, I still have the "chapters" you sent me long ago when this book was just in its infancy. Its great and you are too. Keep in touch..

Toni

Bobby Ozuna said...

Let me say this: The story has changed so much from what it was in the beginning...to what it has grown into today. I am sure a lot of that has to do with the growth of the author (*clearing my throat*) but what do I know???

I put a preliminary dedication page here: Preliminary Draft: The Other Side of Glory

That gives a somewhat idea of where the story may go...but mostly (and secretly) its my disclaimer to freedom...freedom to tell all...and basically, be accountable to nothing....

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