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The Meaning Of Freedom

The air was crisp, for California anyway, as I skulked along Coronado Island. My target was Starbucks, but, as always, the beach enraptured me. The water was a soft cerulean in the setting sun, rising and falling tides beckoning me invitingly, even in the surprisingly frigid temperatures. I changed course, guided by no reason in particular, and began a leisurely stroll down the waterfront of the Hotel Del Coronado. If you ever think youve made enough money, take a walk down the back of the Hotel Del. The average room was $550 a night, with the cheapest beachfront houses renting for $5300 for 2 nights. Patronized almost entirely by an interesting mix of affluent white couples with spoiled children in tow, and equally prosperous foriegn families of indeterminate ethnicity, the establishment inspired greatness in the ambitious and shame in the downtrodden. As I moved candidly with deliberate steps, I felt a bout of introspection coming on. I wanted to be rich enough one day to stay at this hotel specifically without the price intimidating me. I wanted the purchase of anything to be considered with as much attention as when to draw my next breath. I wanted success, I wanted an exorbitant amount of money, and I wanted freedom. That last thought froze me suddenly and harshly. As I beheld the Strand stretching out through the water, connecting Coronado and Imperial Beach while providing a shockingly unforgettable view, I posed an inquiry to myself that I doubt Ill ever answer completely; What is freedom to me?

Bahrain was a hell of a country. Beggars with bruised, torn skin festering from infection intermingled with Sheikhs and businessmen, their thick suits hilariously incongruous to the sweltering heat that seemingly blanketed the entire country. Everywhere we went we occupied a sauna. At the very least, I would stay lean while devouring delicacies I fatally desired underway like Fatburger and Pizza Hut. I sat with friends at Costa Coffee, a little slice of heaven in the midst of a barren desert. On deployment you lived for moments like these, rare instances of complete cessation from Navy life. I loved to take advantage completely, devouring new posts from my favorite blogs. On one in particular, www.boldanddetermined.com, Victor Pride, author and proprietor of the site, spoke of the freedom he felt when his bank account swelled with money. He waxed fondly and directly of how it empowered him to be in shape, live a minimalist lifestyle, and have a large amount of cash on standby. To quote a great movie, The Gambler, it was "fuck you money". It also gave me a basis for my own definition of freedom and happiness in general. Having enough money on in savings and investments to never have to worry about affordingamenities or work a job I hate. Combined with a minimalist lifestyle and good health, autonomy is virtually guaranteed.

My first few weeks in San Diego were my fantasies realized. After 8.5 months adrift, traversing the world while simultaneously protecting it, my duty had been fulfilled, for the time being at least. My parents stayed for a week, granting me the solace of home at my new duty station. Eventually my Dad and I drove my car down, and my freedom was guaranteed. After 3.5 years of life as a pedestrian, having my horse back was a godsend. The 2k sunk into her didn't hurt either. More time well spent with family followed, and, as always, I was once again alone with the Navy. Duty beckoned, and I stood it half-heartedly, still inebriated by the love Id sorely missed for nearly a year. Off the next morning for 3 glorious days, I sped off base in search of distraction and diversion from my ebbing malaise. On the whirlwind highways of Southern California, which still are nothing compared to the Bay, I found another piece of the puzzle regarding what freedom meant to me. I had no idea where I was headed, still don't, never will completely. But as long as I can be light on my feet, heavy in resources, and never tied down, Im happy. Whiskey and women dont hurt either.

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