It was a few minutes short of 1 a.m., and the band had just finished its rendition of The Outfield's "Your Love," which I consider their signature song. By the time the next song was done, my mood and my thoughts had undergone a complete reversal. I had hit a wall, something I never expected to happen at a K&TN show. Just as I wrote the last time I saw them, they bring so much energy to the stage that it's nearly impossible to resist the urge to start moving. But somehow - and I blame it partially on three different varieties of beer - I went from:
The music is awesome...they're really good players...Kristen is totally hot...this is a great city...etc...to this:
Damn, I totally can't talk to women...I'm never going to score...what the hell is wrong with me?I didn't even have enough in the tank to finish out the set. I grabbed my coat, and within five minutes, I had begun the long, cold, lonely walk back to the hotel.
It seems completely illogical that in this day and age, and in a city and an establishment filled with attractive women, someone in my station in life can't make any sort of opening. To be sure, this problem runs across all aspects of my social relations, but it was the opposite-gender aspect that took center stage three nights ago. And it's not simply the opening. While I can sustain a conversation for some time, I completely bomb when it's time to "go in for the kill," so to speak.
This incident brought back some fundamental truths about where my life is after 10,084 days; early Saturday morning, I called them "stark realities." I'm not sure what the answer to the whole social skills thing is. But I do know that I won't come upon it as long as I remain in the Seagoing Military Force. That, more than any other factor, absolutely compels me to separate in 162 days. Even if every aspect of working on the Submersible Death Trap were rosy, and I loved the place, I'd still be hard-pressed to sign on for more time. Of course, rest assured that isn't the case. It is, to me, hellishly ironic that my biggest reason for getting out has abso-tively nothing to do with the Navy. While it, and the other services, advertise the possibility of a life-changing experience, it's not guaranteed. I'm certain of this, because it wasn't written in the contract, and there was a line in there that said that anything not written there was not promised. As such, I don't hold this against the Navy at all. The Canoe Club did everything it promised it would for me. It's given me a marketable skill (even with the economy further below water than the capability of the Submersible Death Trap). I've paid off nearly all of the college loan debt, and have been able to save to ease the transition. And the government, through the post-9/11 GI bill, will fund the completion of my degree. Even so, I can only stagnate by remaining with this organization, be it at sea or ashore. Before I shipped out to recruit training, my mother said something that has stayed with me constantly. She told me, "maybe this will finally give you the help you need." She has a mostly keen understanding of the ways of the world, and is generally right. But on this, she could not have been more wrong, and never in my life has she been more wrong. In the time since then, I believe that even she has come around to my point of view on this; by selling me the Blue Trooper, she kept my bank account on the right path. If nothing else, the Navy has given the financial stability and the courage to make this call on my own.
As much of an emotional dagger that may have been, it was recovered from quickly. As I speed-walked down Arlington Street toward the Park Plaza, I needed one song, not only for its overall quality, but also to hear its opening lyric. As T.I. raps at the beginning of "Live Your Life" :
What you need to do is be thankful for the life you got, you know what I'm sayin'? Stop looking at what you ain't got, and start being thankful for what you do got...