By B.L. Ochman
Six years ago today, 9/11 was the worst day of my life. The memory of the jumpers falling like stones is fresh today. But I’m alive. Tincture of time has dulled my nightmares. I can’t say the same about the beautiful boy in the zoot suit. He’s very much on my mind.
Last year on Labor Day weekend, I went to swing dance camp in New Hampshire. There was a strapping, handsome boy there with a faraway look in his eye. He must have been about 18. He was a terrific dancer, a strong lead, graceful and sure footed. He worked hard at having fun, but always looked sad.
On the last night of camp, we all got dressed up for dancing. He had on a much-too-big-for-him zoot suit that he wore with white gloves. “Why the gloves?” I asked him, since that was not part of the period’s costume. “They’re part of my dress uniform,” he said. “I’m on leave from Iraq, I start my second tour of duty the day after tomorrow.”
Surprising both him and myself, I started to cry. “Don’t cry” he said. “I’m ok.” I thanked him for believing so strongly in what he was doing.
Because even though I think the war is a sham; even though I’m sick to death of the politics and the lies, I wanted that boy to live so he could dance, and laugh, and have a life.
He didn’t make it back from Iraq. His life is over.
But the fucking stupid war goes on.