We exist in a world where it seems every skill, talent or gift, no matter how esoteric or seemingly inapplicable, can, through the bittersweet, pyrrhic blessing of social media, be monetized, commodified and capitalized upon. I harbor no unrealistic goals, because realism has become hyperreal. I live a simple life, one that appears to have placed me at odds with the world's status quo. Good, fuck them. Take happiness where you can grasp and steal it, whether it's by drinking overpowering, ironically cheap beer with great friends, screaming obscenities at the top of your lungs for the shock value, or doing feats of strength on public benches. In my case, everything is words and handstands. The rest is irrelevant. Forever flawed. Forever rebellious.
For too long I've harbored the one-sided shadows of former relationships. Torturous, rapid bombardments of perceived slights and ridiculous thought crimes. I've stifled my own opinions on everything from politics to religion, the two classic hot button issues, paragons of ostracization and dogmatic pollution.
The ghosts of the past are insidious and seductive, causing me to view them through rose-colored glasses for a formerly indeterminate amount of time. Yet now, in the absence of that old, familiar love, the grip of nostalgic fantasy has been loosened as my naivete is strangled by harsh reality.
Gasping for breath, it attacks me with a battalion of its best memories, a company of incomparable moments, countless divisions of dreams rendered dead by inaction and hatred. In the end, we all die alone. In those final, fleeting hours, we'll be surrounded by a devoted, compassionate family if were lucky, holding and pumping our aching, callouse…
Today marks 6 years since I began my enlistment, and coincidentally, had I not extended, I would be free today.
As a younger man, when the home and world I knew were unmolested by the ravages of change and the life I left behind was still relatively intact, if you had offered me a path out of the military, I would've seized it feverishly and greedily, determined to free myself from what I perceived as stifling bondage.
Now, staring down the barrel of 27, I fear gaining that complete autonomy back. I feel institutionalized in a backwards, ironic way, more like a convict on the precipice of parole than a Sailor a short time from mustering out of service.
I've gained skills and credentials that render me employable nearly anywhere, and have cultivated a healthy collection of contacts that span not only several states, but countries on either side of the world's oceans.
I've gained 40 pounds of muscle since I initially left home, and saved a large portion of …