Thursday, March 23, 2006

It doesn't seem possible!

33 years ago today, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy! In some ways it seems like something in the dim, dark past; in other ways it seems like the blink of an eye ago.

I had a full paid music scholarship to attend a university 180 miles from home, but my Dad said that was too far for me to be from home at 17. He told me I'd be staying here and working and going to the "junior college" (now a community college). He had never encouraged any of the things I'd thought of pursuing, be it flying, or becoming a veterinarian (might as well go another year or two and be a real doctor) but he openly discouraged music. Since he had been a trumpet player (better than I was) I always assumed it was because his Dad (the minister) discouraged him; I never did find out why he felt the way he did.

I had been playing Taps at Navy funerals for several years, and was picked up at school by a recruiter to attend them and then returned. Of course my future was discussed, and he suggested the Navy Band if I couldn't take my scholarship. Seemed like a good idea to me, but that required a 4 year enlistment and since I was 17 Dad had to sign my papers. He would only sign for 2 years, so that was how I ended up a jet engine mechanic. The recruiter said "just do your two, then when you re-enlist you can sign for 4 and go on into Navy Music School"; by the time the end of 2 years rolled around I wanted nothing more to do with the Navy, even though I was obligated to play weekend warrior for 3 more years after I got off active duty. My attendance suffered accordingly and in proportion to my partying and riding motorcycles...

So I went from having Wichita be too far for me to go to college to spending Christmas of that year in the Philippines and bound for points further west. I don't know whether I showed Dad or he showed me!

I know I wouldn't trade any of it or my family and grandkids to know what might have been!

33 years...wow!

alan

12 comments:

Jen said...

Great post! I sometimes go through periods where I feel regret, or wish I had taken a different path at times. Then I realize that path led me here, to my babies, to my husband, family and friends. I wouldn't give that up either.

sttropezbutler said...

It is fun to be able to look back and ask the what ifs. It is great to know that in the end the choices made, made you the man you are today!

Great post Alan.

STB

Lori said...

Wow...how interesting. Thirty-three years ago my brother was at WSU...a music major! (Go Shockers!) He went on to get his masters there and received a Fulbright Scholarship to study organ in Germany for a year. He nows owns a music school in Washington state and plays the organ at a large church there as well.

It's weird to think about the paths we've had before us through life...and the paths we've taken. Clearly, the choices that you made in your life must have been right on the mark because you are a tremendous man with a heart of gold.

www.kimmy.cc said...

wow! Awesome. I hope Ash sticks with it. I think it is the best thing she has ever done!

Mystical Me said...

WOW, I always love reading your posts. Sorry mine have been about drama!! I feel alot of the way you do, I think we all question what could have been. But if we would have done something different were would we be now. Great post, made me think alot about my choices in life. Thanks!!Take care, MM XOXO

JLee said...

Congrats on 33 years!
My parents didn't encourage me to do things because of "religious issues" so I'm living out all my childhood things I want to do as a middle aged person!

Casey said...

Yeah, I miss the smell of JP-5 sometimes, too. Spent me a Christmas in Honk Kong, another in Bahrain, another loading a strike for Iraq.

I'll drink to suck-squeeze-bang-blow tonight for you.

ConnieJane said...

Thirty three years ago I was married, the mother of a two and a half year old living in Jefferson City, Mo. It seems so long ago and yet, just yesterday.

So Alan, do you ever toy with that trumpet today?

www.kimmy.cc said...

I wonder, how did you feel when your dad wouldn't let you go? Were you mad? I guess it takes looking back now, a full scholarship is priceless. And ash did find out about that "recruiterspeak" LOL

alan said...

Yes, I was livid for a very long time; I swore I'd never forgive him, etc..

ConnieJane, I promise to write about that soon!

Thank you all for the kind words always...there are times I can go several days and only speak to my wife over the phone when I call home, or an occasional hello or other pleasantry at work. It's very easy to end up feeling irrelevant on so many levels; I've "talked" more to all of you than I have anyone here in years!

Again, thank you!

alan

TDharma said...

what an opportunity that was 33 years ago. yeah, isn't it weird knowing that something in your life happened THIRTY THREE years ago?! I don't think I'll ever get used to numbers that big in my memory banks....

cherish said...

Fantastic Post!! I sometimes think about what might have been. But I am sure everything is as it was meant to be. No regrets!