Life’s Angels

On the AT they have something called Trail Magic and Trail Angels. A trail angel is a person who does good things for people, who are walking the trail.  It can range from a ride to town, a sit down meal on the trail, free lodging in their home, to trail magic.  Trail Magic is usually something a Trail Angel has either done for you or left for you.  There are countless stories of hikers coming across both along their journey.  It almost seems that in the darkest hour, the moment they need just a little to sustain them physically, spiritually or emotionally, the magic happens.
It is in that moment it is really and truly one of life’s miracles.  In learning about these events, I began to look back over the past few months and focused on the people who have come in and out of my life. It would seems that the concept of a trail angel is not limited to the trail.  Since march I’ve come across three angels; Samantha, Ashley, and Melissa.  And I have been one for someone else.
It was the first week or so after my divorce I went out with my best friend Joe.  We went to the local bar to just grab a drink and talk. Nothing more nothing less.  On the way there joe had decided to break up with his girlfriend and he wasn’t happy about it.  We sat at the bar and talked about him and me or quite a while.
At one point in time Joe noticed the two very cute girls sitting next to us and said I should talk to them.  I asked Joe “And say what to them?”. His reply couldn’t have been more awkward and more creepy if he tried.  “how about we are lonely and could use some friends for the night.” “How about not Joe, let’s try not to creep them out.”. I told him I would just wing it.  I leaned over and told the girls that we both were recently single and asked where we could meet people to make new friends and to just get out.  It was game on from there out.
The two girls and I chatted for a little while before returning to our respective conversations.  After some awkwardly cute singing of “I’m a Barbie girl”. We became lost in conversation with each other.  The girls were Samantha and Brittany. It was still early on and Joe needed to leave. I told him to go because I needed to stay. The three of us talked about everything and it flowed so naturally. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is when you’ve been deprived of an emotional connection in a relationship and two random people make up for it in one evening. The one thing I had needed for the past two years I was getting.
The girls told me all about their highs and lows in the past year of their lives and we shared everything. Samantha had just gotten out of a bad relationship and Brittany was growing weary of dating.  We hashed it all out.  It was like therapy in a way. No matter who was talking the other two of us would support them. They were one of my life’s angels that night. I never saw the two of them again.
Just a few short minutes after Samantha and Brittany left I noticed a guy out of place across the bar. He was wearing a hat, headphones, and sunglasses. Everything about him said DANGER.  Between my childhood and time spent in the service I learned to notice things that were out of place.  Things that are out of place are either a threat, danger, or a precursor to both. His eyes were fixated about a foot in front of him, his headphones were in both ears and his hat was pulled low to control the area of his sight.  It was apparent he didn’t want to be bothered and he was shutting out the stimuli of the noise and sights.  I watched closely as he fumbled to regain his glasses off the bar.  Every time he reached for them he’d accidentally push them farther and farther away,, like a child reaching for a ball and at the last second kicking with their foot every time it was just within reach.
I had seen enough to know he was a possible threat to at least the couple next to him.  I asked the bartender what his deal was because he was acting oddly.  He replied with he noticed he had a military ID sitting face under to him.  In that instant it all became clear to me.  Every sign, signal, action on his part was deliberate.  The glasses were to darken the room, the headphones to drown out the noise of people and give him a semblance of quiet.  The fixed gaze on the bar or glass in front of him, to keep him from watching everything.  There were way too many people for him to watch and do what I was doing.  He was in sensory overload and probably his first day home.
I walked immediately over grabbed his glasses from in front of the couple who were laughing and sat down next to him.  While handing him his glasses I asked when he came home.  I already knew the answer but I wanted him to know we were brothers in arms and he was safe.  He looked up and asked how I knew.  I told him I served in the infantry, that he was home, he was safe, and I’ve got your back tonight.  He immediately relaxed a bit.  From there we talked about coping, the asinine idea his friends had by forcing him to come out, to the service.  He opened up and said he was probably going to hurt the people next to him, it doesn’t matter now what his reasons were, suffice it to say if you haven’t been there you DON’T know.  I told him I knew when he said i had saved not only his life but theirs as well.
He began to tell me a story about his dad.  His dad had served in Vietnam as a chopper gunner and through all the things he had seen he had learned one thing.  Out of all the bad, misery, death, violence his dad had something so powerful and positive to share with his son before he left for Afghanistan. Now he was sharing it with me.  His dad had said ” Sometimes in your life someone will come into just for a brief moment. And in that moment they will drastically alter the course of your life.  In this moment that is you.”  he was right.
Everything that had led me to that bar on that night, my divorce, Joe wanting to go out, meeting the two girls, Joe leaving, everything had conspired so that I was there for him.  Just as Samantha and Brittany were there for me.  I gave him my number before we parted and told him to call if he ever needed me.  Day or night ,if he was feeling off, wanted to talk, or for whatever.  I knew I’d never see him again and I knew he’d never call.  I walked to Joe’s girlfriends that night.  Ten miles of peacefulness.  No cars no people just me the street lights and the sidewalk.  Everything was as it should be.
When you think about it. When you really think abut it. We have all had moments like this in our life. This night I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of some magic and on the giving end too. I am grateful to these angels that have affected me so and I look forward to paying forward their generosity and kindness in full.

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