When it came to my friends, we had many different crews. There was the Jersey crew full of people who were full of potential and have since become titans in corporate America. There was the Queens, NY crew. A large group of people who you always knew you could find at our regular bar at any time of any day of the week. We even had our own Christmas stockings hanging over the bar. There was the Staten Island crew that was always down for long nights out in the city or up at Hunter Mountain.
During the day I strutted around New York City's financial district with the movers and shakers, riding elevators all over the New York Stock Exchange. I was clad in Brooks Brothers suits and shoes worth more than I make in a month now. We had corporate dinners and bottomless expense accounts. We did what we wanted, when we wanted - cost meant nothing and we spared no expense. I remember throwing $900 on a bar one night, insisting my glass never got empty. We'd take off to Atlantic City with handfuls of black chips and lose it all, keeping just enough to buy breakfast in the event we didn't get a comp.
Money flowed like water while partying at the Plaza Hotel or having drinks at Windows on the World. We were corporate royalty. I was full of things but... I... was empty.
One fateful morning, it all changed. People came to destroy the way of life that I, specifically, lived. The money dried up, the job went away, my life changed... and I fell.
I woke up months later in a blue knit shirt ringing up customers for a new keyboard at BestBuy. My lunch came in a paper bag and I worked every minute I could to compensate for the measly hourly wage I was given.
Then it changed again. I threw caution to wind and signed my liberties away, care of Uncle Sam. I traded the suits for BestBuy blue and I traded BestBuy blue for camouflage. I enlisted in the US Air Force for 6 years as an explosive ordnance disposal technician. Due to a prior indiscretion and difference of opinions that was solved in the most physical of manners, the Air Force slid me away from the bombs and back behind a desk, under flourescent lights, at the mercy of a keyboard again. A life not dissimilar from the one I was stripped of years prior.
I landed in Sumter, SC - a place unlike anywhere else I had been and it became my new home. Finding my footing was difficult initially. I needed the speed of the city, the hustle and bustle, the rat race. I needed a corporate ladder to climb. My friends were all years younger than me and those I got along with, I worked for and couldn't truly spend time with. I was stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. My decision to enlist was not reached lightly, but after all the deliberation it still started to seem like it was a mistake. I was without option though and buckled down to make the best of it.
Once I did, the universe manifested something for me that was, far and away, what I needed. It sent me a loving couple, Josh & Kristine, and a beautiful baby named Aden. These folks are not my best friends; they are my family but more on them later.
More good friends filled in behind - some close, some just pals but all together a support system. And within this group, people have come and gone along the way.
At one point, I met a young lady. Quickly, we formed a bond and had decided that spending the rest of our life together was the way to go. Clearly, that was not a smart move and it was not meant to be and went our separate ways. Initially I gave up hope and got negative. Then I allowed the universe to listen to my abundance vibration and present me another opportunity - a better opportunity.
And I met someone else, Crystal. I did say it was better, true. However, we didn't stay together. This was through no fault of our own. Timing and circumstances beyond our control caused a rift in the relationship, but I still believe, not in us. We've since split but I've yet to accept the permanence of the scenario. The core difference between the two relationships of which I speak is that when it came to the first one, it was us clinging to what we thought we wanted. We were in love with the idea of each other, but never truly with each other. It was the relationship, the dream, the end goal that we both wanted. We didn't know then, that we were not meant to realize that dream together. That's ok. The end of that only opened the door for the most recent one. This one, as opposed to the former, had
You'll notice that in the first part of this I talk about all I had and how wonderful it all was and how it seems like a life I once had yet still yearn for. This life appears, through these words, as something that's been full of disappointment and failure. That is contrary to my point.
I had "stuff" before. Tons and tons of "stuff." But it never filled me. The suits are gone, the money is gone, the prestige is gone but so is that hollow feeling.
Yes, I've had disappointment in my new life, but it is worth it for the true happiness I've found here. I wouldn't trade a single moment of any of it for all the Brooks Brothers in the world.
Josh, Kristine and Aden are preparing to depart for a new adventure in Germany. It breaks my heart to let them go. However, it is time. Aden will experience things most children will never have the opportunity to. And they are only leaving my day to day life. They will never truly be away from me, as my heart won't allow it.
So I here I sit, without money or power, without biological family, without adopted "family," without chosen family - on a couch in a trailer and I think. I think about who I was and who I have become. I think about desires. Not wants, but desires. Heart's desires. I think about the loss of stuff, the loss of family members and the loss of those I have surrounded myself with all these long days. I tell you without a doubt; without a single solitary doubt that even though the hole in my heart is one of the strongest feelings I have; it is trumped by the love I have received by the many people around me. There is nothing in this world more important to me than the people I've mentioned to you here today (all save for one).
They have all shaped me in one way or another. They have all made me who I am and for that... I owe. I learn from them every day, each in their own way and they all mean the world to me. They have taken a life I thought I could not handle and turned it into something I've come to love and cherish.
It has been a long and winding road and I look forward to each twist and turn that comes next. My only wish is that I can look to my right or my left and find each and every one of them travelling with me, in person or in spirit. For those that can no longer walk the same path as I, know that the part you played so far will be remembered fondly - always.
I love you.