I Sent this to a few of my friends. After doing so I decided it was appropriate for all. So here it is…
To a Select Few of My Friends:
Those of you who know me know that I tend to write long and wordy stuff. And since I have not written anything below this point, there is a strong chance that this email to you will be no different. It’s sort of a reflection of how things have changed over the years.
I’ve been permantely living in Florida .. oh about … well exactly 3 years, 3 months, 1 day, and 1/2 an hour. Moved here from Northern Virginia, where Bonnie and I lived for …. 26 years after living in Virginia beach 7 years and other places over the years starting in Bath Maine. Moved to Friend Ne at the age of 6 months, so I am told. I don’t remember that long trip.
My life, or mental state or the process of growing older, in my mind, started in Friend Nebraska. And what I am about to say has to do with how I thought about time and age and growing up and growing older.
I recall being in Elementary School. As some of you know, Friend Public Schools, at my time, had almost 300 or so students. That’s K-12. I recall, (Do you remember that far back?) being in Kindergarten… Using Big huge crayons to draw pictures on sheets of paper on the floor of the classroom just prior to Nap time on the rug. And I remember (sorry John for telling on you) John Dine, on the first couple of days of being in that classroom, getting upset and telling the teacher that all he wanted to do is “go home and have a peanut butter sandwhich my dad!”.
This was the start of my “whishing my life away”. The Kindergarten classroom was right next to the FIRST Graders and only separated by a sliding door or more like a curtain. I recall wishing I was in that class room. I wished I was older. I wish I was a little (body size) heavier, I wished that I had black hair instead of the fine dirty blonde hair I had, and most of all I wished my name was John, or Bob, or Dave, or Fred or anything but Steve.
Time moves on … 5th and 6th grade.. wished I was in Junior High.
Junior High … wished I was in High School
High School.. Couldn’t wait to be 16 so I could get my drivers licenses. Wished I could get away from my parents and live on my own. Wished I would graduate and get the hell out of high school. Wished I could get up the nerve to ask out the pretty girls in the class or anywhere. Wished I could get up the nerver to ask out…okay I said that already, but you know hormones.
Graduated .. FEAR on graduation day…my wishes have come true .. Now I’m 18 and on my own. Already Married..(if you don’t know that story..it’s a story for another time)… Just before receiving my diploma I had a major FEAR RUSH thru me… No more school. No more parents telling me what to do. No more ….AH SHIT…No more comfort areas to come to to help me. Perhaps no more anything..Viet Nam was in full swing, the draft. Actually at that moment… I was scared shitless.
Time moves on … wished the Viet Nam thing would be over, wished that my draft number in the lottery would save my ass as I was planning on a trip to Canada should it come up to low.
Also at about 20 wished I was 25 so my car insurance would be lowered.
Things worked out.
Worked for Alpo for a number of years, worked for Yeakley Refuge, worked for myself, worked in York for a day putting together High Power Line Power Poles, went back to Alpo, then worked for Deter Foundary making Manhole covers…. And GOD I wished and hoped for something better than this in life.
1974 my wish turned into a trip from work at Deter Foundary on 70th street in Lincoln to the Navy Recruiter. Joined the Navy.. Things were about to change. Free Training, free housing, free food, and get to see the world and I felt safe that I wouldn’t have to go fight in Viet Nam for a war I didn’t believe in. All came true… Got all that…which resulted in spending 60 days underwater without the sight of sunlight twice a year for 3 years. And it cost me my marriage and seeing my son. And I wished then or maybe wondered what would have been had I stayed in Nebraska. And I still do today. My base pay then was about $200 a month..of which $100 a month went to child support..for the next 18 years.
Time heals .. but not completely… Hormones still in gear at the age of 21 to 28 resulted in 2 more marriages which failed. And a soulful wish that something would change. And it did when I met Bonnie. Everything I had done before became a lesson. And I changed my ways and beliefs and thoughts and life style … and became … me.
Yet the wishes went on. Navy life was a bit demanding. I wished for something better. As a petty officer in the Navy I attended many schools. My rating in the navy was Electronics Technician in the Fleet Ballistic Submarine Electronic Warfare Divison which was controlled by another part of the Navy which was differnent than the Sub Groups that control all the rest of the ship except the Nuclear people. This required me to take a 360 question test every 3 months to see if I knew anything about my job and if I needed extra training.
I was sent, during one off crew, to a seminar or whatever they called it, to evaluate those test. It was run by Governement Contractors and had to do with test questions, whether they were technically correct, relevant to the job, and how hard or how easy they were to answer.
That’s were I said to myself … I’d like to do the job of the Government Contractors. Working within my Navy Job Code and being a civilian, dress in clothes that looked spiffy and get paid bunches of money. That thought was another wish.
Moving on .. 1986…Got out of the Navy. Had a Job with a government contractor…And by God it was the doing what I had wished for. Doing the work of those Contractors I just mentioned.
Moved from Virgina Beach to McLean Virigina. Went to work. This job fulfilled another wish.. Get out of Nebraska and see the world. I flew, on a month or two basis, to Chalreston S.C, where I had lived for two years, Groton CT, where I went to sub school, and Bangor Washington… near Seattle, where I had never been before. I did this job for four years.
Made a lot of friends. Did my job well. But I screwed up and wished for a higher salary. Then my job situation went screwy. Go more money, and less satisfaction out of what I was doing. George Bush Senior was President and changed the way government contracts went. Keeping a job became more political.
Moving on .. had many more jobs from 1999 to 2005. And what had I accomplished. GOT ONE HELL OF A LOT OF EXPEREINCE in many different fields of work. I tend to say “I know a something about everything, but I don’t know everything about anything!”
Personal realationships from kindergarten to this time went to an avoidance. You meet someone you like, become close friends, they get out of the Navy, or change jobs in the civilian world and one day they were gone. Never to see or hear from them again.
So during the 26 years , it seems that the going procedure with relationships was and unwritten rule of “Don’t get too close”.
And that I adhered to. The next to last place I lived in Virigina was a townhouse we purchased in 1996 and lived there until 2009. For those years, in a town house conntected to another townhouse .. I never knew my neighbors name.
I look back at the years before … Lost friends, Lost Marriages, and more. I think of all the things I wished for. Did I do right, Did I do wrong. What did I sacrifice for my wishes that came true.
I also look at my way of thinking… which resulted in wishing my life away and not paying attention and appreaciateing the moment. I wanted to be a First Grader, I wanted to be in Junior High, I wanted to be in High school, I wanted to be out of High School, I wanted to 21 so I could drink, I wanted to be 25 so my insurance would be lower, I wanted a better job, I wanted a better lifestyle, I wanted and wish that something would change so that I would have what I wanted. And I got my wishes….And they all TURNED OUT IN THE END OKAY…but I fucking missed the big picture of my life wishing for something else.
Now here I am in Florida..Due to a seriers of wishes. Warm weather all year round, sunshine, beaches, fishing, boating, a house with a pool…etc. And I got it…
And now at age 61, I’m find myself wishing I was 62 so my Social Security Payment would start. Wished I was younger so I could afford health insurance. I wished for close friends…got a ton of them now…
But times have change… My close friends are not going anywhere. And they are good friends. And now the conversations among us are other wishes … All wishes have turned to wishing …. no more doctors appointments, no more hospital visits, better vision, body pains would go away, ….. all things that I never considered would become wishes.
And the worst of all… the end of it all. Losing Friends, seeing them suffer, and the reality of the fact that the ultimate lose will eventually happen.
Today I have a good friend who was diagnosed with Cancer and is awaiting Chemo which will be followed by surgery. I have two friends who are going thru a family situation where two sons are hospitalized. One with a reported incurable aliment and the other son has been in intensive care for over a month.. and Both these sons are friends of mine ….
I don’t know where my wishes stand today… But my purpose in writing this is two fold… First.. BE CAREFULL OF WHAT YOU WISH FOR BEACAUSE YOU MIGHT JUST GET IT.. and second …LIVE THE MOMENT! EMBRACE IT…. Because LIFE GOES REALLY REALLY FAST.
I don’t regret my past or present. I say if I had to do it over again, I’d probably do the same thing…except I might just stop and smell the roses more frequently than ever…