Although 4.5 hours from DC is probably not going to qualify as a proper 'road trip,' it's managed to achieve what a 15 minute cat-nap would... just enough to reinvigorate me till the next opportunity, I hope.
When I finally got in the AO (area of operations) I rounded the corner and saw the warehouse. With excitement, I walked into the building and felt like a little kid getting to satisfy much of my long-held curiosity on what the RU operation looks like. As someone who claims to own more RU 'chick shirts' than anyone (please feel free to challenge me on this), I found it incredibly cool to see how far Nick and the team have grown the business.
I first met Nick Palmisciano, Tom Amenta and Kelly Crigger back in 2009, I believe, at the Milblog Conference. Matt Burden of Blackfive had mentioned to Nick and me, separately, that we needed to meet. After perusing RU's awesome shirts for military/veterans and reading through some of the blog posts, I came to the immediate conclusion that RU was almost perfect... for guys.
At the pre-Milblog Conference party, I saw a group of guys in MMA-like t-shirts standing in a row across the room. I knew who Nick was in an instant. All I remember is walking straight up to him and saying, "I love Ranger Up but you guys need some bad-ass chick shirts."
I'm not sure what was going through Nick's mind at the time but if I remember correctly, what he said was "You must be Genevieve."
|Mark Seavey, Princeton, Matt Bernard, Nick/AG|
There followed some warm (heated is such a strong word) debate on this and other topics like the portrayal of veterans to the American public. Princeton, most likely not knowing his audience as I did (or simply not caring), seemed to dig himself neatly into a hole which I'm told he recovered from on one-to-one conversations following the panel, quite the charmer as he is.
Feeling a bit out of my league as, you know, not having an ivy name and it being my first such panel discussion, I was beyond nervous. Bloggers, especially milbloggers, are an extremely opinionated and sometimes unforgiving lot. You really must always be on your toes, as many a reporter or rogue embedded 'journalist' has learned. (Even milbloggers have their inter-family rivalries.) But I had little to worry about because whenever I looked out at the audience, I saw a row of very intimidating former Army Rangers standing at the back of the room. I felt safe up there. After all, no one was going to mess with Nick Palmisciano... even if he was in a skirt.
That was the beginning of what I have often referred to as a sibling-like fondness and affection for Nick and the Ranger Up guys. He's far more well-versed and experienced in business (which I bug him about often but not nearly as much as I'd like) and he shared the same passion for service to country and values of leadership as I did. (Warning: If you can't handle a few f-bombs, skip the link.)
In many ways, I respect and look up to him like the brother I never had and as siblings do, we've had our issues. I will humbly admit here that in the past, not only was I an outright brat on one or a few occasions (to be fair, he was at times more "snips and snails and puppy dog tails"!), but I went through a very loooong "phase" in which I quite often imposed my opinion and unsolicited 'tough love'-type advice. On more occasions than I care to disclose (and with various friends and family members) I was an outright bitch... in the not-so-cool definition of the word.
Recently and especially since the passing over of Lex, this is something that I feel quite guilty about. Never mind the sometimes inevitable drifting apart or kind words left unspoken. I fully believe that little else compares with the guilt maggots that eat at us from the inside, borne from poisonous eggs fertilized by criticism, judgment and the inability to forgive ourselves and others. I believe, but cannot confirm yet, that the simplest (but perhaps hardest to administer) restorative to this affliction is, "I'm sorry." Which is what brings me to the nature of this post...
Nick and I haven't seen each other in a while and I'll admit that while initially nervous, it wasn't long before I felt at ease. I don't really know how to explain what it feels like to be surrounded by my brothers in arms or fellow male vets. It's a strange but respectful mix of family and professional... the only word I've ever been able to offer that comes close is 'camaraderie' but even that fails to differentiate between the awesomeness of hanging with sisters in arms/vets and brothers in arms/vets. They're equally incredible for different reasons.
|Nick, Garrett, AG, Tommy, Raven, Matt, Kelly, Patriot Center, 2009|
Whatever the reason, I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to express my regrets and apologize to Nick. He made it such that I didn't feel the need and thereby made it easier to do so which speaks volumes of his character and the type of man he is.
For the record, the irony and selfishness of needing to apologize does not escape me...
Update: Make sure you check back for what I was doing in Durham at the Rhino Den in the first place... to be continued.