Thursday, June 19, 2008

In the Navy . . .

Twenty-four years ago today was my first full day in the Navy. I think. June 18th seems burned in my memory in an ominous sort of way. Yesterday I flew out of Portland with several other confused young men, to arrive in Chicago. This morning I was awoken early to another world. A world with short hair and lots of waiting in line.

You know what “Navy” stands for, right? Never Again Volunteer Yourself! In an alternate universe, I went on a mission for the church instead, and then onto college. I still ended up in Corvallis with a loving wife and four beautiful daughters. I’m working in another division at HP, writing software for the newest printer, and wondering what it would be like to work down in the chem lab instead.

In yet another universe, I signed on for a third tour and was assigned to an older 688 sub running out of New London. I made Chief, earned another shore tour, and am ready to retire. I’m still divorced, lonely, and bitter. Alternate universes can cut both ways.

In this universe, I awoke next to my wife. The sun was shinning. My daughter made me a sandwich and packed my lunch (she volunteers, but is paid). She stands in the windows and waves as I drive off to work. I think I’m happy, right here in the universe I’m in.


Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

Wow. What appropriate music. Your blog helps us understand you better. I remember that day too with angst. We didn't want you to go and you insisted on going by yourself on the bus. Fiercely independent you were. Mom

There is another side: the brother, uncle, father, husband and son who keeps the fun going in the extended family. Thanks for the bike trips, canoe excursions, camp alpine escapades, and thoughtful home improvements. Dad

brenda said...

Thanks for sharing that. I love reading your writing, and especially your thoughts on your life.

Overcoming bitterness is truly a triumph, and it helped a lot of people to heal. You and Polly have made a pretty great life together. Thanks for your example, big brother.