Just Me

Just Me
Look,I'm just sayin'

Friday, April 28, 2017

bits and pieces

 Having spent twenty years in the Navy I often find my past is in bits and pieces. There are times when this is troubling. I do feel like I missed out on some things because of that. The old motto join the Navy and see the world is like most motto's , more hype than reality. I did see a great portion of the world that much is true, most of it is water though. Now I'm not complaining I saw quite a few different countries as well. At the time I didn't write them all down and so I can only guess at them now. I can't remember everywhere I went and certainly can't remember all the people I served with. There were literally thousands of them. I always chuckled when I was on active duty and would meet someone that would ask me if I knew, so and so. Yeah sure, I know everybody in the Navy. Well, it is a natural questions to ask, a conversation starter. The other person wanting me to know they know somebody that is also in the Navy. So many names without faces over the years. It is in that I find a sense of loss on occasion. We , the wife, children and I moved every two to three years. Each move was another little piece in time. There is no sense of continuity in that. That is why I say I find my past in bits and pieces.
 In the big picture I think most of would say ages 18 to 38 are the prime of our lives. At least they are the physical prime of our lives if not the most, how should I say this, intellectual ? Let's just say a certain degree of immaturity still exists during those years, and impulsive behaviors are not that uncommon either. With each move there were new challenges and new friends to make. It does take a while for you to get the lay of the land so to speak. Some places embrace a serviceman and other loathe your presence. It's a part of human nature I guess. In areas were there are large concentrations of sailors or soldiers for that matter, the general population aren't too happy about it. Even though it is that population , the servicemen, that provide the greatest impact on the economy of the area. It is like a tourist in a tourist town. You are necessary but not really welcomed. I have been to areas where the opposite was true as well. That was the case in Statesville North Carolina where I was the only Navy man in town. The other service members present, all three of them or so, where at the recruiting office next door to me. We all got a lot of respect and a welcoming feeling in that place.
 None of this is meant to be in the way of complaining. I have no complaints about the path I took. I've had good fortune along the way. I did meet and work with a lot of very fine people over the years. And it is the people I miss more than anything else. Still having moved around all the time it does leave a period of time unsettled. While others were building their homes, attending all the school plays and recitals I was often gone, off to sea somewhere. My wife was left alone to care for the kids and didn't have anyone to really share with. Back in my day, letter writing was all we had until we reached a port where I could use the phone. A lot of events, those that may seem small or insignificant in hindsight, went by without my knowledge. At the time those events were not small or insignificant at all. Events like the kids getting an " A " on their school report card or getting the part in the play. So many little life events missed. I'm thinking that unless you have experienced something similar it is hard to understand. It may sound exciting and fun, an adventure even. That was another slogan the Navy used at one time, it's not just a job, it's an adventure. Strangely I didn't feel too adventurous at the time I was doing it. Mostly I just followed orders ! You had to temper your " adventures " with common sense. Contrary to popular belief sailors don't have a lot of money to just party with in every port. Well, some of the single guys had disposable incomes, but not those of us that were married. We were supporting our families same as anyone else, with a few extra expenses thrown in for good measure. I will say the paycheck was a steady one though.
 I often think about writing a book. I believe a lot of us do that. I have even made a few tentative attempts at beginning that process. If I were to write that book about my life and experiences the Navy would only get a few pages. I know quite a few veterans, as you would expect, and some have so many stories to tell. I don't find my twenty two years of active duty service all that much to write about. I can't find much in there that I feel would be of interest to anyone else. There are only bits and pieces that bring a smile or warm memory. The majority of the time it was monotony. I think I would struggle to write a chapter on that time period in my life. The long and short of it is I left home to see the world. After I was done looking, home wasn't where I left it ! But on the upside I have found a new home in Greensboro, Md. The old urge to wander still exists but my wandering days ended over twenty years ago. As we age we all tend to get nostalgic. Funny I don't feel a bit nostalgic for those years I was in the Navy. Oh, I have a little spurt of pride every now and again. I will walk in a parade or advocate for fellow vets. I don't regret having served , not one bit. I also don't want to go back and do it again. I do believe you have to enjoy your life as an whole, not in bits and pieces. Look at the big picture. My life isn't a masterpiece but then I'm not done painting either. I'm still fitting together all the bits and pieces. I just wonder why twenty two years doesn't seem like such a big piece ? It is almost a third of my life so far. Well two thirds is a solid majority, so I'll continue to write about that.