Thursday, April 28, 2011

Order has been restored

For the last two weeks, while I've been convalescing, Ty and I have been talking about doing a sweep of my apartment to hunt down my elusive, and very special, pen. Finally, today we got around to it. With me being laid up, looking under things and moving furniture was not an easy task. So Ty did the lifting and I did the looking.

We started in my bedroom where it was last seen. We looked under the dresser, under the armoir, in the closet and finally moved the entertainment center. We found nothing.

Next was a quick feel under the things in the hall closet, that haven't been moved but could have had a pen slid under them via a mischievous cat paw. We found nothing.

The office proved to be a daunting task with two computer desks, a futon and more than one set of shelves. We found nothing. In the process of combing the office, I looked in the closet and straightened up a bit. While doing so, I found two plastic bags, each containing a handful of newspapers. They were the multiple copies I bought when the the South Carolina paper "The Item" ran a story on me as a 9/11 World Trade Center survivor now serving in the military. The front page sports a three-quarter page color photo of me in old BDUs (the woodland green, black, brown camouflage for the civilian readers). Sure enough, in that photo, my pen is clearly visible. It's probably the only photo that shows it so clearly. It almost felt as though we were being taunted by it.

We took a time out from Pen Hunt 2011, as Ty was never fully aware of my actual 9/11 involvement. He read the article. We did some talking about it. We listened to some audio about that day. Then we went to have a cigarette and recover from the somber mood that topic had put us in. All the talk about that era of my life and the picture showing the pen made me think that much more about it, as that was the time during which the pen came into my life.

On the way in from our smoke we searched the living room. He moved, lifted and tilted couches. We rolled out my large, media cabinet that houses all of my movies. The TV came off the entertainment center and it got pulled out and tilted back so we could look under it. We found nothing.

Days ago the dishwasher was pulled out and today the fridge, which incidentally has wheels, was rolled out and tilted back. Under the fridge we found cat toys and some cheap Bic style pens. In terms of my pen, we found nothing.

The last room was next and it was the laundry room. I was beginning to feel disheartened. They say "it's always the last place you look" which is nonsensical because why would you keep looking for something after you found it? However, this was the last place TO look. There was a washer and a dryer. If it wasn't under there, it would be lost forever. We pulled the dryer out first and leaned it back. I found cat toys, cat hair, laser pointers and a sheath for a Pampered Chef knife. We put the dryer back down as we adjusted it further. Clumsily, I got back down onto my knee because the ups and downs had put my healing leg to the test and I didn't have much left.

He tilted the dryer back even further and as I turned my head, it happened. An unmistakable gleaming black and platinum pen stared back at me (along with several other items pilfered by the cats). I reached in, grabbed it, and clutched it tightly. As I pulled it back out I said, "that's it," but quietly enough that he didn't quite realize what had just happened. He thought it was similar and commented to that effect. I said, "No, this IS it!"

That was just more than I could bear. After all the talk about 9/11 and the associated loss less than an hour earlier and the recent talks about the pen and my former life, I was now holding the last remaining link (that I thought was gone forever) to a life I miss so dearly. All the hope I pour into this tiny, shiny, cylindrical object and motivation I get from it to remind myself that I've been there before and can get there again was right in front of me.

With my eyes welling up and my voice cracking, I eked out a "thank you." I've never understood sentimental attachment to inanimate objects until today. I've always known it wasn't about the pen, but about the association. And whether I ever found it again or not, I did live that life. I was that person. The pen shouldn't have mattered, but when it was in front of me today, it sure did.

I can't wait to slide it back into my uniform pocket and use it every single day as it makes the journey with me back to the place we both started together. I can't thank Ty enough for getting my ass up to find it without giving up hope. As he said to me afterwards, "The look on your face cannot be described in words."

I have a road ahead of me to get back to where I started and that road will require lots of paperwork along the way. I have the perfect pen with which to sign, check boxes, fill out and otherwise mark each sheet that comes my way. I'm still motivated, I'm still driven, I'm still counting the days until I'm home. I'm still not happiest until I'm there.

But now... I found my pen.


Mietz said...


Ty said...

Ya know I was thinking on the drive home... Scary I know, but all the years in the military I never really felt like a hero that many say we are. However, after learning even more about the story behind it and than seeing the look on your face today, I feel a little like a hero. I can't stop smiling and it's not even my pen, but I was part of getting a piece of your past and a link to your future back. Something I will never forget!

Mike Coombs said...

I am glad you found your link to this important event in your life. Your right it is not necessarily the object but the ability of that object to transport us back to the time in which it is linked. Thank you for sharing.