It is almost the end of the year for me. It is almost the end of the battle.
I stand before you a broken man. Tired. Old before my time. I have spent much of my life facing down adversity, fighting and never faltering. Some of my battles were certainly my fault but they were battles nonetheless. I can go back in time and point out key moments. Moments of my life when I was more than I should have been. The time I learned an entire semester of college biology in a single evening. I got an A on the final. Going to boot camp at the age of 33 and graduating in the top 5% of a class of 800 (much younger) recruits. The time a young Marine who was allergic to ants dug out his fighting hole in the home of zillion angry fire ants. I was called in to stabilize him long enough to get him to the base hospital. Happy ending. The time, still in the Navy, my ambulance was called to a house for an unknown complaint. I was greeted at the door by a young woman holding a blue, limp four-day-old baby girl. She looked at me and said, “Save my baby. Please.” We did. Long enough to harvest her organs. (That particular moment has never really left me. I did not realize it until I finished writing that sentence…) I have been faced with everything from failures to near death experiences, mine and others, and no matter what, I walk away. I learn and I move on.
But this time? This time they win.
It was just a couple of days ago that I realized that I had lost. I got out of the car that I can’t really continue to pay for, and started to walk to my room. Past the “Fuck You” spray painted on one outer wall, beyond the “I.C.P. Posse BITCH!” painted on the opposite outer wall. Charming. Some kids earn Merit Badges on the weekends, some spray paint obscenities. I continued to the front door, the one that is now Plexiglas because a kid threw a trash can through the old one. I put my stuff in my room and traveled down the hallway to the restroom where I was greeted by graffiti, a freshly broken paper towel dispenser, trash on the floor, and broken ceiling tiles representing a valiant yet ultimately futile attempt to peek in the adjoining ladies room . Up to the urinal and I can read some more graffiti. “Blood Killaz”, something about a gang that is affiliated with a street downtown, the word “bitch” again. Inexplicably amongst the Killaz and the Bitches and the vague homophobic scribbles is the word “Bob”. And a booger. As I face forward at the stand-up appliance, the offending nose-candy is perfectly at eye-level and all I can think is, “That is really big.” And it was a monolith of a booger. It looked like a potato chip.
How did our society arrive at the moment when we think to ourselves, “Not only will I pick my nose while I am peeing, but I think I’ll wipe the booger right here…on the wall. My little gift for everyone.” Bloods, Crips, Killaz, bitches, Bob and a booger. And today? The icing on the cake. Someone lit the booger on fire. I swear to you now as God is my witness. Someone pulled out a lighter and lit the booger on fire.
So here I sit. Knowing that at any given time there are at least five people who can come in and tell me what to do. Five bosses who can just casually come in to my room and completely screw up my day and casually walk right back out. Here I sit knowing that a child who told me to kiss his ass yesterday will walk into my room today without receiving a single minute of punishment. Here I sit knowing that my bank, an institution that publicly and on record gave house loans to illegal aliens, wouldn’t let me deposit a check into my account to stave off some potential overdraft fees. Here I sit with a depleted bank account, a car that barely runs but still has two years left on the note. Any hope I had for the future of our country is represented by a burned-up booger on the wall.
The light at the end of the tunnel is a train heading our way. They win.