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Archive for September, 2009

Friends

I have had a lot of friends in my life time. Some I stay in touch with still to this day and others I have long ago lost touch with. With the advent of community websites like Facebook and Myspace it is so much easier to reconnect with people, and I have taken full advantage of that.

For instance, I have 106 friends on Facebook. Not people I just added for the hell of it, but people I have had actual friendships with. Some close and some what I call “hallway” friends (you know those friends that you said “what up” to in the hallway, but never really spent the time to really find out what they were up to. It’s cool to have these people added to my friends list and be able to see what they are up to after so many years. Some of them are grade school buddies, high school friends, Navy friends, and people I have met since 2000. That is sort of how I have laid out my life. Pre-2000 and Post-2000. Or better known as Pre-Navy and Post-Navy. Those four years in between hold a different place in my heart and mind. This is not to put down any friends that I have had before going into and since leaving the Navy, but I will say this, the people you meet and befriend in the military just hold a different place with you. I guess it is the same with college. I say guess, because even though I do hold a couple of college degrees, I didn’t have the traditional college experience. No, I had that in the Navy, and I must say, it was a better.

I bring all this up because this morning a good friend left for the Peace Corps, and I won’t see him again for two years, if ever. I have resolved myself to a certain reality that mose pople don’t really experience. People that leave for college are bound to return at some point. I had so many friends leave to college, but it was never really bittersweet saying good-bye because I knew they would be back for Christmas Break, some for Spring Break, and always summer. The thought of “Ain’t see that f*cker again,” never crossed the nogin, because I knew I would see that f*cker again. People who leave for other life adventures beyond college are rarely people you see again, especially people who leave for extended trips.

When I left for the Navy I returned home once. Once in four years, and that return was brief and didn’t see even a quarter of people I thought I would want to see again the day I left. A great deal had to do with the fact that I had a brand new life, brand new friends, and brand new thoughts and dreams. The life I had in 1998 was vastly different than the life I left in 1996. Hell, even the people I did see I really didn’t know anymore, and the sad reality was, they didn’t know me and couldn’t get to know me. They would and actually never could understand the 1998 Jason Simmers. I spoke differently, looked different, and the experiences I had had in those two years inbetween they could not understand, and no matter how much I tried, I could never make them understand. Hell, by that time I had been half way around the world, seen things that they would never see, and in some cases would never want to see. I had made friends with people from Boston, Philly, New York, Virginia Beach, Clevland, Miami, Chicago, etc. Not to mention the friends I had made in Venezuela, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, etc. And those people and the experience I shared with them had rubbed off on me and I transformed me. My best friend from home was no longer my best friend, because no matter what we had done, that friendship could never compare to the friendships I had in the Navy, because those friends weren’t only my friends, they had my back, I relied on them as much as they relied on me for life. I mean, how the hell can you compare friends like that? I never looked down on my friends from home, I just didn’t see them in the same light as I saw my friends in the Navy. Down in the hole, out in the field, drunk as f*ck in some foreign country, they always had my back and I had theirs. You just can’t compare.

Which brings me back to my boy that left this morning for Eastern Europe (Ukraine). He was a replacement teacher. That’s how we met. He replaced a guy that was a douche bag that got fired and when T was hired my principle said, “I hired him because I know you two will get along.” No offense to my principle or anything, but how the fuck would she or anyone else know who I would get along with? I mean this guy was some CU grad, just got finished with student teaching, and was walking into a situation that was essentially out of control. There was nothing about this guy that said, “F*ck yeah…I’ll like him.” But sure as sh*t she was right. We worked well…nah…screw that…awesome together. We shared the same vision and worked long ass hours to make those visions a reality. We turned what was boring into fun and saw the benefits of it. Increased attendence, better grades, and kids having fun learning. We liked the same sh*t, hated the same sh*t, knew the same sh*t, and complained about the same sh*t. We became quick friends and shared a vision for this year. That was until the very last day of school, and I do mean the very last day of school, when he told me he was interviewing the the Peace Corps that day, and by the end of that day informed me he would not be returning the next year. For a while there I was hoping against hope that he would change his mind, or that something would change…but in the end I knew it wasn’t and began to see something that I guess my disappointment refused to allow me to see…the benefits of it all…for him. Man, when you see someone with a garaunteed job at a place that pretty much kissed his ass, it was difficult to imagine why someone would walk away from it for Volunteer Service halfway around the world. But, then again, it was exactly what I did in 1996.

So today he caught a flight to Philly on his way to Eastern Europe. The next two years are going to open his eyes to a world he has never seen and he will have opportunities that most people only dream of. I know this because the four years I spent in the Navy was the same thing for me. Of course our paths to get to that point are vastly different, but in the same light, they are the same. Giving away the normal for the new. Walking away for the expectant for the vastly different. Leaving the known for the unknown. And doing it all for the the service of someone else and something so much bigger. It’s service to nation with just different  jobs to achieve the same sort of goals.

Yesterday when he stopped by the school to say good-bye I couldn’t help but think of what could have been for this year. I don’t get along with his replacement (not that I haven’t tried….alot), I’m working on achieving the goals we talked about on my own, and have the sinking feeling that I’m swimming up stream against the tide. Part of me has shut down. The involvement in things that I thought I would be inolved in isn’t there, but find myself involved in things I never thought I would have been involved in. I’m bitter, but content. I have this push…to achieve what T and I talked about and wanted to see happen, but I’m doing it for me, because the second part of the equation is gone. It’s hard to even try to explain this to people because you had to be there to understand it. It’s about me in a way, but it’s about me for the benefit of 120 kids that I’m teaching. I’ll admit that if I wrote this three weeks ago the bitterness with T’s replacement would be dripping off this, but now I don’t give a sh*t, because in the end those goals were just T’s and mine, but they were actually MINE. Just because T’s gone, doesn’t mean the goals have changed and that is the resolution I came to three weeks ago. To be bitter about the situtation only fades the goals. I won’t lie and say that it wouldn’t be easier if T was around…but he isn’t and when I look at the adventure he has set out on…I’m glad that he isn’t, because I am probably the only one of the people involved that actually truly understands the step he has made. I know it because I took it. Yet, at the same time knowing it makes it sort of bitter sweet because there is a sad reality that I know I have to deal with…there is a damn good chance I won’t see him again. Because, like I said, when you take that step…it’s so f*cking hard to look back.

And so, if you ever read this T just know it was damn good to know you, man. Friends like you are hard to come by, and it is hard to say good-bye to someone like that. Our conversations and our look towards this year changed my views of it all, and for that I can’t thank you enough. I won’t lie and say that I’m not sad that your not here to see it become a reality, but knowing what your about to do, I can honestly say I’m glad your gone. You helped me see that silver lining and because of that my attitude about it all is different than it is for most sitting in C-2. I care in a different way because you helped me see why saying “I don’t give a f*ck” is sometimes the best way to approach things. There are battles to fight and in the end its who you are fighting those battles for that matter the most. It’s the 120. I’m going to prove myself right and then look towards different horizons. I just hope it’s like that scene from Shane when I do it. Me getting in the Jeep with one of my freshman chasing me through the parking lot screaming “Jason…Jason…Come Back Jason…Come Back!!!” I’ll just tip my Boston Red Sox hat and say to myself…”I don’t give a F*CK!!!” because that kid will be walking back to that school building classified as a Sophmore telling his Freshman friends next year, “Man, you missed out on the cool sh*t that Mr. Simmers and some guy Mr. T came up with for our class.”

So good luck T. I know you’ll have the time of your life. Just keep your head up, your goals in sight, and always remember these five words….I DON’T I GIVE A F*CK!!!

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