I Was Walking In A Circle

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I realized that my feet felt as if they weighed a ton a piece, looking down I see that I’m wading through a foot of thick mud, going towards what appeared to be the direction I was drawn to head. The closer it seemed I would get to my destination I would notice the distance increase. I was carrying a bag which seemed to get heavier by the step, I wonder what I could be carrying that could weigh so much, I wanted to open the bag but in the darkness I don’t know how I would see inside. Hearing the loud crashes of thunder I wanted to move faster, I wanted to find shelter, as I watched the flashes of lightning in the distance I wanted to get away from the tall trees, but the flashes got brighter and the thickness of trees only increased, the more I pushed the more trees I can see. Hours seem to pass before my surroundings begin to seem familiar, I’ve been here before, and before that I was here also, but where is here, why do I keep coming back, I keep finding the same path, leading me to the same damn place, I’ve been here but this place is not familiar, it’s darkness reminds me of having my eyes closed, unable to see, only being able to hear, to feel, and smell the rot in the humid air. What is that familiar smell, why do I know the soothing scent, it is pleasing to me, it makes me feel secure in a place I should know but don’t recognize. As I rest I feel each drop of the rain touch my face, rolling down the skin like warm tears. In my mind I hear Freebird, it’s loud and I hear it echo in the trees, I need to start moving now, I need to get to a safer place, this place smells of death, it smells of rotting corpses, there are thousands of them. As the light of day breaks I can see the bodies I’m walking on, wading through like mud, the blood is over the top of my boots, it’s weight is increasing with every step, I look down and see the faces, faces that didn’t see what had killed them, I know what killed them, I know what the thunder is, I know the lightning flashes, I know what has happened.

As I sit in my recliner with my eyes closed shut, telling my wife for the first time ever what it was like to see the destruction as a result of what I did while in the Air Force. The reality of it is that it isn’t a forest, it is a desert, it is a place I never want to return to, and rarely, if never, talk about it. I’ve been married for 16 years, to a wife that came along after the Air Force, she just doesn’t want to understand, and I’m okay with that. The mere fact that I’m writing about it amazes me, it still hurts, it is still fresh when I close my eyes, and I fear there are not enough pleasant memories ahead to knock it the fuck out. I spent years detached from the reality that the weapons I helped build destroyed life and property, it wasn’t me pulling the trigger, it wasn’t me hitting the target, but a simple walk down a deserted street after a carpet bombing the night before let reality set in, no longer was I detached, no longer was I innocent, and I knew then changes needed to happen or I would lose my mind. Like a good soldier I pressed forward, putting behind me horrors that cannot be unseen or forgotten. What gets seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately it is very true. My wife wants me to talk to a headshrinker, I opted out. And now I see, once again, talking about it isn’t worth a fuck, I just leave more out each time. I hope that in time, preferably before my wife has me cremated, that I just forgot about the shit and everyone else forgets it as well.

When I talk about Desert Storm and later The Liberation of Kuwait it is to educate myself and others about how the real world is, beyond the news, beyond the media, beyond what the politicians think they know. There is zero reasons I should feel guilty for being a part of the machine which is called the military. I took responsibility for my personal contributions while in the Air Force, I do not blame others, there was no gun to my head, I served, fuck it, I’m a proud veteran, I can’t ever take it back. Some of y’all understand my pain, the rest of all will never have a fucking clue, y’all are the lucky ones, the innocent ones, the ones who close their eyes without fear. Anyway, to my wife who is reading this post, I hope this has helped you, at least a little. I never asked to be anyone’s hero, I never asked for people to thank me, I never asked for people to want to take a picture with me if they find out I’m a disabled veteran, I just joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country because I thought I could and would make a difference. But, I can’t fix stupid and stupid wanted a robot who didn’t care, that person is not me.

Before I go, let me tell you about the one and only time my ex-wife was able to pry out of me what I didn’t want open. Y’all see, she was studying to become a sociologist and well on her way to being a social worker, she thought we could talk about it, that I would be comfortable knowing that she, of all people, would not pass judgment. When I was done talking she was in tears, she was appalled that I was part of the organization which promotes peace through the use of violence, she told me she was ashamed to be in the same room with me, ashamed to share a last name with me in marriage, and that one day I will pay for my sins of being a baby killer in the deepest, darkest parts of hell, a place reserved for rapists and paedophiles. At first I believed she was right, it matches how I feel, but soon I realized that I am a simple person who was not looking for redemption or forgiveness, I wasn’t even looking for understanding, I just wanted to know if the words I would speak would or could sound like the thoughts in my head or the memories I have or how I feel deep down in that part of me nobody gets to witness, ever. Shit goes there to be buried and forgotten, it takes time to dig it up, nobody quite understands that, scratch that, some do understand, those are the people who don’t have physical scarring but are somewhat fucked in every other way, we know what each other are thinking, not even we understand so we don’t expect others to either. We don’t look for eyes or words if pity, we do appreciate it when others respect us enough as human beings just to let things be.

My wife hugged me, long and tight, not a word spoken, with tears down her face, she told me I’m home, I’m with people whom I love and that love me, support me, and care about me. That was the best hug I have had to this day in my life, a memory I will forever cherish. My message to my wife and to my son who will read this post later is that life happens every minute of every day, take time to see the scenery, smell the rain in the distance, we only have one shot at this life so we better live it to the fullest. My daughters give me their support as well, still I wonder if they really understand or if I just get the nod. This, unless something snaps again, will probably be the last time I discuss any of this on a personal level, this shit sucks to remember, to relive, and to talk about. Some call blogging “therapy”, and it is, but not today, today is more like anger management for me. Remember, no pictures please, ever, for any reason.

Back To The Bar, Afterthoughts From Florida

Originally Posted 07 August 2012

 

My first night back at work was Monday night. I had mixed feelings about going back to work at the club, unfortunately its sorta complicated. It was easy to go back to my day job Monday morning, probably because it is so scheduled, routine, and really laid back. So, it was easy to jump right back in and as I found out I didn’t actually miss too much and I didn’t have too much to catch up to bring it all current again. Working at the club is a bit different, I wasn’t ready to get back into all the drama just yet. Ten days away was nice but another week would have made it better. Its not just all the dramatics, its also the time I put in every night. We did hire new bartenders a while back, three, and they are all trained for the most part now so they don’t need much babysitting any longer. I talked with my boss and told her that I don’t want to work the weekends anymore and I only want to work 6-10 during the week. She kinda gave me a grin and a nod. Why? Because I would go from working 60 hours at my part time job down to around 24 or so, it would cut my hours basically in half. She told me I would miss the money, she is right I would me the 3K a month, but I am willing to overlook it. If something doesn’t change real soon I will be forced to quit altogether because my body just can’t take the abuse any more.

 

I know, sounds like a bunch of whining, but my vacation gave me an opportunity to put some things into perspective from a great distance. I had time to do a great deal of thinking while I was driving. Driving is the perfect opportunity for me to sort thoughts and put things into perspective. So, what did I think about. Well, the big one was about not liking to have to work 2 jobs to make the ends meet and be able to save money. I work alot of hours, and for what, just the money. Money does make the world go ’round, well, at least in my world. Not everyone agrees with it, but the nuts and bolts of it is that in order to have things or do things one needs money. My part time job has provided things and opportunities that I don’t think would have otherwise been available to me or my family. One major thing this job has done was allowed us to have our dream house built and a 30 year mortgage paid off in just under 3 years, which wasn’t a small feat by no means. It has gave me the opportunity to pay off vehicles. It gave me the opportunity to pay cash for a brand new Goldwing. It gave me the luxury of hunting down a Hummer H1 to buy, just so I could say I had one. Hell, for the most part, it paid for the Disney vacation we just got back from. It was nice to throw down cash and be done with it. It was nice not having to say no to my wife and kids because something wasn’t in the budget while on vacation. We did alot and we saw alot on this vacation and I wasn’t worried one bit about over doing it and being strapped for cash when the bills came do. No, I am not bragging, just explaining what the income from this job has provided for myself and my family. I like having money to do things or buy things, it is a great feeling not piling it on one or more credit cards. However, I have socked away more than I have spent, you do the math. I want to be my wife and I to be fully retired by age 50, that is 6 years for me and 12 for my wife. I want our toys bought and paid for, I don’t want any more monthly bills except for utilities. We live pretty much debt free now and after we retire I want to be able to keep it that way. I will have tuition for my middle daughter here in 2 years, and my son in another 7 years. Both are taken care of right now. My daughter wants to go to Texas A & M to become a veterinarian and my son, undecided on a school, just knows he wants to be a structural scientist (which is way too hard to explain, so you will need to Google it).

 

In the end, I have been able to do in 3 1/2 years what many cannot do in an entire lifetime. And yes, I am proud of myself. I am a good saver because I spent way too many years being poor living paycheck to paycheck surviving on ramen noodles every night and always having to tell my family no because we could not afford it. I really hated having to lie to bill collectors and always risking losing something because the payment was late. Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way entirely. Maybe its my day job that I need to ditch and just press on bartending for the next 6 years, maybe that is the actual answer. Is there actually an answer? Am I wasting my time looking for something that doesn’t actually exist? All I know is this whole floating through life grabbing up stuff while it is available is starting to show its wear and tear on my body.

 

One of the amazing things I saw while in Florida was the large amount of out of state plates on vehicles. We saw plates from 28 other states, Canada, and various places in Mexico. I started wondering what all of them were doing in Florida. Were they “ALL” there on vacation. Were some relocating? Oddly enough while we were in the parks I had a hard time not people watching, I did it alot. I also spent a fair share of time while in close quarters in the lines listened to the conversations going on around me. It seemed at times that my family was the only ones speaking English. Disney World definitely was the point of convergence for world wide vacationers. My family and I blend in real well with the Florida natives, until we talk I guess, the Texas accent would give us away every time. By the time my trip was over and I was looking at Florida thru my rear view mirror, I found myself wondering why people flock to move to Florida. In my own eyes I couldn’t really find a reason for me to move there personally. Other than the humidity there wasn’t much difference in the weather. Hot is hot wherever a person lives in the south. Gas prices were all but identical to where I live. The housing market and prices were similar also. The major difference, the turn off for me, especially in the greater Orlando area was all the tourists. People I talked with, travelers like myself and also residents mentioned that there is a large quantity of tourists year round, not seasonal like I thought. Don’t get me wrong, Florida is beautiful. I especially liked Daytona, it was kind of a sleepy city. I don’t ever see myself as being one of those people who dream of moving to Florida after retirement. Then again, anything could happen.

 

Daytona Beach was an excellent place to people watch. My daughter suffers from the same thing I do, she like to people watch too. Maybe we both have overactive imaginations because together we just have way too much fun doing it. We watched this one man, mid 50ish if I had to guess and this young girl, 18 or 19 at best, joking and goofing off out on the beach. No big deal, my daughter and I are doing it all the time. We had commented how much fun this girl and her dad were having on their day at the beach. We had both commented that my daughter would be dead if she wore the bikini this girl was wearing because it showed more than it covered. I had more lint in my pocket than she was wearing as a bikini. My lint could have made 4 of the bikinis she was wearing with some left over. He had the “stereotypical” 50ish year old dad body. He had the beer gut, the receding hair line, the droopy bathing suit, and so on. But, damn he was tan, like 80’s porn star tan. After a few hours we became bored with them and shifted our attention the the 4 boys building a house size sand castle. Also a fun watch. But then the dad and daughter caught my daughter’s attention again. She was going on…..Dad…..Dad……Dad……Dad…..look over there as she pointed with a look of shock, horror, and disgust on her face. What could be so bad I wondered. Well, lets put this as mildly as I can, they were “making out” in an extreme manner. There was enough groping and grinding to make a passer byer blush while he looked repeated to assure himself he was seeing what he was. It was pretty steamy. It was like watching an episode of “Real Sex” on HBO. We came to the conclusion they probably weren’t related. But then again, what do we know anyway.

 

The places we visited in Florida were not restricted to any particular age group, race, religion, sexuality, or language. It was a bit bizarre but at the same time it gave me an opportunity to see what people from all over the world do for vacation. I used to think a vacation was a “state of mind”, probably because I have never taken an actual vacation before, imagine, me, a vacation virgin. Well, now that I have had my first I can only think what we will do on our next vacation. My family expressed the idea that we need to have a week long vacation every year, if not two. Not a bad idea. I guess it sums alot up for me at this point, keep my bartending job so we can afford future bad ass vacations. Do retired people take vacations? Maybe it would be best to stop my bitching, the work I do is easy as a bartender. In reality the dancers make 80% of the money I get to take home. They perform for cash and I get a portion of the funds they receive, not a bad deal actually. One day this “life” as a bartender will be only a memory that I probably won’t talk about, I am looking forward to it.