Southern Hospitality

OK. We are not really in the "deep south" but from where I come from, this is SOUTH in many ways.

Megan took me to the gym on the Army Base at Fort Campbell as I had not done any exercise since my strenuous yoga class on Monday. My muscles did not recover from that until Thursday, and the only exercise I got that day was running around airports.

Half of the base is in Tennessee, the other half in Kentucky. It was 70 degrees, the rolling hills were green, and early blooming trees were a full 6 weeks ahead of New York.

Megan had to show her military ID to get me into the gym, and they told her she was supposed to hang around while I was working out. Putting on my best coy New York face, I promised to behave myself, keep my mouth shut, and do my workout for an hour. The young man whose arm was bigger than my upper thigh looked at me, then at Megan, and said "hmm...alright, we will take care of her." As they handed me a towel (hey, my gym does not do that) showed me where the water machine was, Megan said "I am not worried about what the Army might do to my mom, it is what my mom might do to the Army", and left.

The handsome young man gave me a tour of the gym, showed me all facilities, and I went to the gym that had some people in it. I wanted to be with America's fit men and women.

There was a large screen TV (wow) and the movie they were showing was 300. But of course. Lots of violence, some weird sex (could not figure out the sexual proclivities of some of them) and very surreal. I put my headphones on and did my stint, sweating more than usual as there was no A/C and it was hot to begin with.

The funny thing was, I outlasted all the soldiers on the elliptical. Maybe they were working at a higher level, and just did shorter time, but I watched a few come and go. At one point I realized I was a minority in two ways...color AND age, yet I was completely at ease, and there was more camaraderie here than in my stuffy gym at home.

Afterwards I took Alanna to a playground on base while Megan did some paperwork for housing, and soon I was joined by a young man and his child, and later on his wife. For once I was not the one approaching people here were friendly and looking to chat.

Later we took Alanna to see Horton Hears A Who, which was WONDERFUL. The theater was new, it had REAL theater seating with nice steep tiers, like in an IMAX movie, comfy seats, and a great screen and sound system. I don't know who loved the movie more, Alanna, Megan, or I.

Later we watched Megan's favorite romance, The Notebook, which was a very sweet love story.

I truly enjoyed this wonderful day together, and was humbled; though I am opposed to the war, or any war for that matter, they young people who serve our country are just that-people. They sweat, they hurt, they love, and they relish a warm spring day, the innocence of children, and the companionship of their fellow man/woman.

And it was good.

patti o learner

Photo at sunset driving back from the theater


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