Baltimore presented a homecoming of sorts for me. It had been a city I spent a fair amount of time in up until I left the East Coast. Being back in the city felt good. The familiarity of Baltimore was comforting especially when confronted by the uncertainty of what lay beyond the Bay. I knew what Baltimore held for me. The city hadn’t changed much over the years. There were still plenty of the city that I had to explore but my old stomping grounds were intact. The comfort of the city was aided by lunch with an old friend. Before leaving to track my grandfather’s ghost, I was rooted in a past I knew. My own. The rootedness and familiarity of this story prepared me for entering into the unknown past.
This trip was focused on Bolling, who provided a strong foil to Leonard. Perhaps in knowing Bolling, we could accidentally encounter Leo. He had done his best to remain to himself even in death. Tracing his story was easy, but putting a person to the story was proving a harder won battle. We decided that maybe we could flank Leonard. While he could hide himself away, even in death, he couldn’t do the same to Bolling.
There was one word used to describe Bolling that was part of the answer to our question. Casual. Bolling was described as casual. There is a playfulness that comes with being an Orrick. I’m still looking for the right word, because that’s not quite right. But for Orricks there is no ground too hallowed. At an uncle’s memorial service, as the family was preparing to scatter the ashes over the water, the family was also trying to restrain all dogs present from retrieving the ashes. This was an Orrick farewell. The absurd mixed with the sacred. While Bolling would have enjoyed the unfolding drama, Leonard would not have.
There was always a seriousness to Leonard, even his classmates at the Naval Academy sensed it. It was why he was a favorite target for their practical jokes. One would be forgiven for thinking that Leonard was shaped into a serious man by his experiences during the war and a lifetime served in the Navy, but, as far as I can tell, he was always a perfect fit for the rigidity of a military career. Slowly, we are beginning to see Leonard. A serious man. A man that struggled with understanding how to be part of a family. A man that gave his presence to family.