by Michael Royal

    The front yard grass was little long as I stepped out of the garage to see a clear and sunny day. While looking across the valley at the majestic snow-topped mountain peaks, my eyes saw the beauty while my mind envisioned something else.
     In my mind, time has reversed to where all I see are the trees, the fields, the rice paddies and the ghosts of years ago. As I stand not with friends but brothers of a common bond, my body feels the warmth and strength of that bond flowing through. As we move, I hear the voices as though I am back where I belong.
    In the next second, I am back and the grass still needs to be cut. I move the kid’s bicycle, her roller blades, the basketball and two boxes of things that my spouse cannot live without. I finally reach the lawn mower, give it some gas, a couple pulls and away the motor goes.
    The loud roar of the motor triggers a switch and the back of my mind is activated again. This time, not as far back. The roar of the little mower has now changed to the thunderous roars of big jet engines. The mountains and houses are replaced now by the clear sky and a deep blue sea. I am back with the old girl.
     I feel her heart pounding so very hard under me. She may be the oldest of all of them, She is the best. I can feel the ocean give way as the dream girl turns to allow the wind to blow straight down the deck. A voice rings loud and clear, “On the flight deck. Stand by to launch aircraft.”
     The force of this great lady is about to be felt in a not too far off desert land. As the last plane leaves the deck, part of the job is over. We try to relax but as we all know and feel, there is not a man on board USS Midway that can really relax until all the planes are home.
     It is hard to believe that a floating city of almost 4,000 men can feel like that. Unless you were there, you would not understand.
     Then my wife calls to me, “Honey, the dog needs a bath and the kennel needs to be cleaned.” I see that I am back in the valley, with just the memories of years gone by. The USS Midway is in mothballs or the scrap yard. I am retired, but I cannot help the feeling that I belong someplace else.


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