When The Boy was small, he liked to be carried in front of me, with his arms wrapped around my neck, and his legs around my waist. “Baby Monkey” is what we called it… i had to stop this when he was around 6 years old, as the flying leaps he’d take from the sofa into “Baby Monkey Position” nearly broke my neck.
It was also around this time that he declared his intention to become a bird. Spending hours on the swing set in the back yard, he’d race into the house, excited to tell us that he’d swung high enough to almost fly. “I think my feet are starting to become claws!”
Eventually, he gave up his dream to become a bird. Coming home from work one evening, i was surprised to find a Ken doll swinging from a shoelace – one end attached to his neck, the other anchored on the stair railing. An audience of GI Joe
dolls action figures watched in stoic silence.
daisyfae: “What’s this?”
The Boy (at 9 years old): “War criminal.”
i continued upstairs to the kitchen to start dinner. After abandoning his dreams of feathered flight, my son wanted to be “An Army Guy”, and was now apparently in training to serve as Judge Advocate General.
He held to this career choice into his early teens, but a combination of the politics of war and his entry into The Wilderness Years* pulled him in other directions. He started working at the age of 16, and found a transient niche in the pizza industry – which carried him through most of his academic years.
Last year, he started his first “grown up” job, working as a field auditor supporting the electrical power industry. With a few weeks training, he was sent into a hurricane in preparation for storm damage management. He got good at this job, earned a promotion and banked a shitload of money. He lived on the road – hiking through meth labs in the Ozarks, and urban war zones in the south.
It was just interesting enough. Money and benefits were good, but it wasn’t satisfying. The work was of no consequence… had no meaning. We’d discussed motivation during one of his visits home between work assignments. He read a lot. All the time, in fact. History. Philosophy. Bukowski, Hemingway, Vonnegut among many others. He made the best use of his time on the road.
The Boy stopped in at the homestead on his way to an assignment in Oregon. i was a bit surprised to find him in residence when i returned from my dive trip to Saba in September.
daisyfae: Aren’t you supposed to be headed out west?
The Boy: Got a different assignment. Heading to Georgia.
daisyfae: Cool! Less driving, i guess. Where in Georgia?
The Boy: Fort Benning.
daisyfae: That’s weird… Counting shit on power poles on an Army Base?
The Boy: Not exactly…
Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are ‘It might have been.’ – K. Vonnegut, Jr.
As he approached his 25th birthday, he realized that the window of opportunity to pursue such a grand challenge would be short. No regrets.
This afternoon, his father and i watched as he boarded a plane for Georgia. He is An Army Guy. He earned a direct accession slot for Special Forces. He’ll be damn good at it.
* “The Wilderness Years” – an unregistered trademark from a man who kept me off meds and ledges while my son was wrangling the demons. Thanks, kono.