Monday, March 27, 2006

The Wall

There's something so very egocentric about a blog - just the concept that the anonymous masses will be interested in your daily stream-of-consciousness. I suppose I could avoid the label by pointing out that the personality I'm trying to evoke is not my own, but it's still difficult to overcome the basic feeling of self-indulgence.

I am trying to find a way to clarify Kirk - his character, his experience, his story. So some of these posts will just be that - stories that hopefully give some sense of the very real person behind them.

Wben we first married Kirk joined the army as a Russian linguist. This was during the last bit of the cold war, prior to the draw-down. We were sent first to Monterey, California to the Defense Language Institute where Kirk went through a grueling year-long course in Russian. Our first child was born there, adding to the stress of the situation. Still, he passed well. On graduation, he was given soft orders (terribly contradictory phrase isn't it? Sort of evokes the iron hand/velvet glove idea) for Louisiana. We were both really unhappy about this; I dislike hot climates, and neither of us really wanted to go to the South. Fortunately the person responsible for paperwork at DLI somehow didn't bother to walk those soft orders across the road and actually put them in Kirk's file, so when we arrived at San Antonio, Texas for the next stage of training there was no record of them. Kirk was given the same generic set of orders as the rest of his class; he was sent to Germany.

Kirk's final training was in Massachusetts, and he had to go alone. He also had to get 'command sponsorship' which meant we couldn't go with him at once to Germany. To get his family there, he was made to extend his military commitment and wait several weeks, so the baby and I stayed in the states with my family.

It was November, 1989. Kirk had just bought a cheap car and with his first day off decided to take a long drive. He somehow, and I'm unclear how he managed it, ended up crossing the border into East Germany and making his way to Berlin. There was a great deal of chaos at the time, and he said everytime he was asked for paperwork he just handed over the flimsy gas allotment form he had been given. It was stamped three times, and he was simply allowed to go on. By the time he arrived in Berlin, it was late afternoon on the day the wall came down.

He parked the car as close to the wall as he could get, and set out on foot. He ended up a few yards down from where most of the news cameras were set up, but had an excellent view of what happened. The guards were extremely tense, he said, holding their rifles and bunching together. Then someone threw something and there was a still moment as everyone waited to see what would happen. The guards looked to their commander who froze for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders and spread out his hands. Kirk said suddenly tools appeared from nowhere and people simply started attacking the wall. People were tearing at it, loosening great chunks of concrete, then scaling it and embracing the strangers they met on the other side. Kirk watched, for an hour or so, then realized he had to be back before long. He picked up a large chunk that had fallen nearby, and headed back to his car.

We gave bits of that chunk away through the years - to people who had been in Berlin when the wall first went up - but I still have a small piece somewhere. It's just an ugly bit of concrete studded with small stones, the flat surface a lurid shade of blue.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Megan, people are interested, so dont for a minute think that no one cares about your stories, we do! Maybe the whole world doesnt read your blog but there are people that were close to Kirk that want to know his and your stories both. Most of them you know, some you dont (like myself). Some knew Kirk well, some have only seen his name in print. We want you to continue this blog! It helps us just as it helps you, and we like to hear stories of your life and his both.

richiscool33@yahoo.com - Rich (sorry about the email address, just made it up since I didnt want to be rich334483899293 or anything like that!)

ahafarm said...

Megan, I am so amazed and sad about all this. Kirk always talked like he was going to do great things....and he actually did them! What a life--what a person. I hope you can find comfort--better yet, him himself. I don't know your children, but I will always remember you and your sparkling joy with life, and Kirk, with his big plans and his awesome Monty Python imitations. I love your family and wish you all the best. Lori