It's been a long time since I've consciously dredged up memories from my 26th year, but both Ronni Bennett
and Kay Dennison
have posted a meme to list five things we never thought, at age 25, that we would become. It took me back.
I don't remember June, 1972, although I'm reasonably sure drinking was involved. (If I've ever been a role model, it was not in my 26th year.) I was assigned to the air wing about to deploy again in USS Ranger, so there would have been significant predeployment activity as well as working in the medical records room at the Branch Clinic. I did get married for the first time in August... don't ask... and then in September we were embarked and underway for nine months.
Deployments at that time were broken up between time in Subic Bay for refitting and time in the Tonkin Gulf... primariy in the north... incentivizing the Vietnamese to negotiate with us. To make a long story short, we appeared to have been effective because by the end of January the Paris Peace Accords had been signed. I have to say that standing out in the middle of the flight deck during flight operations with a small first aid kit seemed a little nuts, but after the cease-fire I was able to play a little. One night I helped change out a CSD and generator in a F-4J Phantom II, and the damn thing just flew and flew; but we did some good medicine out there, too.
In February, 1973, we visited Hong Kong and, on the last day there, I was to take the Advancement Exam for Chief for the first time. Basically all I had to do was show up on time and sober and I had a shot at making Chief in eight years; but I didn't do that, of course. Later that spring we visited Singapore and crossed the Equator, and finally stopped in Yokosuka on the way home.
1. I never imagined that I would be married three more times or end up alone. I was not surprised that X-1 and I didn't remain married, but I retained the illusion that I could commit and settle down. (I just wasn't ready yet.)
2. I never thought I would wind up as an administrator. If someone had told me that I would argue myself out of a PA school seat in 1981 to take an admin slot in San Diego, I'd have said they were nuts. I never thought I wouldn't be able to find a job doing what I loved.
3. I never thought I would live in L.A. county. Honestly, the future was not a huge priority with me, but San Diego people don't move to Los Angeles. It did not occur to me until much later that finding a job in San Diego might prove to be a challenge. By 1972, going back to Iowa was just out of the question.
4. I never thought I would clean up. I never thought I would run, and I sure never thought I would run a marathon, but I wound up finishing four before I broke my leg in 2005. I smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish at 25; but I was pretty skinny. When I thought about it at all, I thought I might be the guy wandering around the Gaslamp early on Sunday mornings.
5. Of course, I never imagined the internet in 1972. I never thought I'd have conversations with people on four continents; this has been an extraordinary gift. In the same vein, I never imagined most of the technologic advances in medicine... fiberoptics, laparoscopic procedures, nano-technology... and now that we can do some of these things, we still tend to avoid the larger question: Should we?
That's all for now. I'm not comfortable looking back; it's enough to know that I screwed up without dwelling on it.