6 years. I can still clearly remember staying overnight at the Holiday Inn in Denver, waiting to get on a plane to be sent for in processing into the Navy. The only thing that makes the time real at all is the strange nature of the quality of the memory. While I can remember that my first “roommate” was a snorer, I can’t remember his name. I can close my eyes and remember the shape and color of the free breakfast coupon at the hotel. I had fruit, a cooked omlet and a little too much bacon. I could describe the people I sat and ate breakfast with. But they are so far away. 6 years and a few days earlier, I lay awake reminessing much as I found myself doing tonight, it had felt like I had just gotten into highschool, and now I was joining the Navy, signing six years away. I tossed and turned on the futon in my little apartment the same way I am tossing on the space foam queen mattress tonight. It seems whenever I’m on the precipice of a major change in my life I can’t sleep. I’m sure if I could find the posts from my old website there would be a rambling blog dated June 2002.
And despite how close I am to these memories and the me of 6 years ago, it seems like so much is between us now. I don’t even know if we could relate to eachother. Since then, I’ve fallen in love, bought my first condo, and a Hybrid. Experienced what it’s like to share a sink and a bed with someone, had dreams, made plans, got married, shared my heart and my life. Discovered the gut wrenching pain of unequal love, stood outside in the rain and stared up at the window of another mans bedroom and been too torn to cry at the sight of the hybrid parked in the driveway. I finally understood heartbreak, and found out how many months it takes to get over love lost. I’ve known the joy of putting on a wedding ring, and discovered the equality in pain of its removal. These extremes, leave me without a lexicon to properly describe the places and shades in between. I’ve seen the world, won piles of t-shirts for 5k and BBQ participation on one remotest islands in the Indian ocean, felt a strange mix of curiosity and remorse as I walked through the nuclear peace park in Okinawa, drank Ouzo in Greece, and VB in Australia. I’ve watched the taboo shows in Padaya Beach and held debates on whether or not the ability to sneak a frog, 2 gold fish and 3.52 cents in change through a full cavity search is a talent that a mother would be proud of. I still don’t know how to deal with first hand knowledge of a culture that sells the innocence of their young daughters. I’ve ridden horseback through the pineapple fields of Thailand, and learned that if you run out of bananas to give an elephant you should back away because they will continue to grope for banana shaped objects. I’ve jumped from waterfalls in Hawaii, and watched too many desert sunsets. I’ve learned how to put on a gas mask in 3 seconds flat, and that if someone calls attention on deck it’s normally the tall guy that appears to standup last and has to do the pushups. I’ve learned how to go back to sleep after they shoot rockets at your camp, but I still can’t tell the difference between their explosions and a door slamming. And I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you are in Bahrain, Qatar, Africa or Iraq, the Navy serves a damn good omlet. I have made so many friends, and a precious few for life. I’ve had 109 different roomates, 5 cell phones, 3 computers and 2 cats. I discovered that remodeling is only fun when you involve friends and family to suffer along with you, and that this statement applies to life. I’ve been the lead singer in a Rock Band, and I felt the savage pride of being propositioned by a groupie. I’ve found that college isn’t as hard as I hoped it would be, and some professors are real dicks. And while I was off and away, I wasn’t there for a lot of things. Too many Birthdays. My sisters graduations. My wife.
I think the biggest difference between the me of 6 years ago on that Futon in the me of now is that my hope and belief in myself has formed to knowledge. I’ve been tried. Those things that I hoped I could I have done. And it’s knowledge, confidence and a smile that I take with me as I walk on from this chapter of my life and believe that I’ll find success, hope that I’ll find love, and know that even my failures were just little successes in learning the wrong way to do something.
Bring it on.