I remember nights in bed on a rainy winter evenings. Streets a tar black, white highlights from the pools. Street lights and outside trees shifted in the wind and sent fingers of shadow along the walls, toying with the pictures. The light was white, distant and cold.
My room in Michigan was pretty bare, not much to show for a home, bachelor’s pad though it may have been. I had a mattress, small spat of carpet, and one section of a wall where I had been adventurous and hung some things. In the mornings, the mice gnawing at the baseboards woke me. I was unemployed, a recent college grad, waiting for a job with some friends that never came.
Some months passed, draining away slowly like the slight thaw of the snow-covered streets in sunlight. I had taken to grow a beard…well, slowly taken to it. After some weeks, a passable red wisp hugged my face. I have pictures, but some things are better left to the past.
The house was fairly bare as well…and cold, damn cold. To keep our gas bill below $300 a month, we had to live with an ambient temperature in the 50s, which wasn’t an issue for my working roommates, but made for snacking on cereal in shorts a brisk experience.
It was a time in between. I didn’t have much of a purpose there. It was 2002, and the national crisis was still fresh. Jobs were scarce, especially for a video editor. I tried my hand at freelancing, graphic design and such. Work was sporadic.
My roommates Dave and Sonny both had gigs that kept them busy. I always felt like a third wheel during that spell. Dave had his music and Sonny had his film company. Me? I had a shrinking bank account.
Nearby there was coffee, an Indian joint, Chinese and a hot dog shop. Our seedy neighborhood gave us a few jolts now and then. Doors got kicked in, drugs pushed from the corner. Our lesbian neighbors kept a careful eye while the college house along our opposite wall kept up the parties. Dave’s car, a 1970-something Mercedes, didn’t have heat. In Michigan, that’s saying something. All that to say life there was pretty interesting.
With the turn of the year, I began to flirt with another drastic life change. I was good for that—completely changing my life course every two years or so. I guess it came from growing up in a military family. I was a nomad of sorts, never one to settle down, always trying to become something new. I was restless.
And so, two weeks into 2003, I was enlisted in the Army, bound to leave before the month’s close. My transition to my new me was underway.
My métier: journalist. I would be a champion of the printed word. And why not? I had spent some years establishing myself as a videographer and designer, the print world was sort of the final frontier.
And so, that’s it, how a hibernating Salmons became a soldier.