How does a child move on after being so close to death? I would like to ask the same about an adult but I personally believe children are better at dealing with the traumas of life. I know that sounds weird but think about it – a child has fewer life experiences and life garbage that keeps them from muddying up the whole moving on process. So, moving on is what I did after my brother died. Granted the whole expressing one’s feelings and talking through it was not something we were known for in the Hyland home. My Pops, well his method was out-of-sight-out-of-mind. He expressed that we should neither mention nor even talk about Sean’s death and he went to great depths to ensure we stuck to the plan. Mother, well she was definitely a stuffer, at least until the build-up was beyond control and that whole scene was always emotionally explosive. So let’s just say I took a little bit of both methods and moved on.
Having a strong level of incompatibility with my father and a mindset where I had a better plan for life, it was not long after Sean’s death where I found myself doing life on my own. I was free styling in a sense. I was still going to school but I had moved out and was renting a room downtown and working evenings and weekends at a burger joint. One day at school there were some Air Force recruiters who were selling oceanfront property in the Great State of Wyoming and hey in some back compartment of my mind I thought this would show my dad that I had value and was at least as good as him, right? See my Pops was not one to pat you on the back or even offer praises along the way. He was the complete opposite, even going as far as to say I would be dead or in prison by the age of 18. Boy I showed him as I didn’t go to prison until I was 27, the first time anyway. I learned later in life, much later when I was really analyzing my addiction that when a child is growing up and can never seem to gain the acceptance of a father or meet his expectations it can have a very large bearing on life moving forward and usually not in a good way.
Well, I didn’t make it into the Air Force as I failed the test by 1 point, but not all was lost as there were some very nice gentlemen who approached me as I was leaving the testing center. They wanted to offer me a job telling me “I can be all I can be,” whatever the hell that meant. I expressed to these very nice gentlemen that I had failed the test already at which time they said some fancy words which really meant their standards in the Army were a bit different from the Air Force and that they were also a tougher group. You know at some psychological level I felt that this could work as my Pops never had much good to say about the Army, so not finishing high school and going into the Army was what I did.
As I look over my life and all the different chapters I will say that my time in the military was groundbreaking. I not only learned a trade, but I learned about my own capabilities, teamwork, communication, leadership, organization, and most importantly how to navigate and live life. I have always said that my first big mistake in life was not staying in the military and I often wonder what my path would have been if that one decision was made differently. Money was a factor at this point in my life. I wanted more, needed more, dreamed of more, and well I wasn’t going to reach these dreams staying in the military, at least that was how my mind at 21 worked. Well after three honorable years of military service, obtaining an insurance license, studying for my realtors’ license, failed marriage #1, and some new muscles, I was off to the free world of enterprise. I went to work for a large well-known insurance company based in San Antonio selling and servicing life insurance to active and retired military. I wore a three-piece suit and worked at a desk from 8am to 5pm Monday thru Friday in the corporate world. Now to find more money.
Being 22 years old, single, well-employed, and living in an upscale apartment on the country club golf course, what should I do in my spare time? Adventure! That’s what you do and so it began. I found myself venturing out into the young, single-life spots in the evenings, you know places that they now call sports bars but were actually upscale pool hall establishments in the early 80’s. I did not have any problem meeting people and blending in at that time and that has only gotten better as I age. I found myself out there thick into the scene when one evening I was asked by a young woman if I wanted to buy a dime of speed. A dime of speed? Not only did I not know much about speed but why would someone be selling 10 cents worth of anything? And that small of an amount? Man, this must be some really good stuff. My curiosity was really percolating now as I asked where the price break was if bought more? Well, she politely said there was no price break, two was $20 and three was $30. Boom! I felt stupid. A dime bag was not a dime, it was $10 but I had already shown interest, so yea let me get one. Now I was amazed at what a little bit of some white powder not only cost but what would it do and how does one do it? Buying the bag of speed with never really any intention of doing any I put it into my pocket and continued my night.
My mind was really working overtime in amazement that people would spend money on such a small amount of what seemed an insignificant thing to me. I had so many questions and where did this pretty young woman go? I had to know more as I thought I found the money. Wait. There she is. Her name was Bambi, which I later found out was not her real name but a code name meant to keep her real identity a secret. I spent about an hour learning from Bambi and also trying to convince her I wasn’t some special agent working for whoever I guess the bad guys were. Well after much convincing and a very interesting conversation it appeared Bambi and I were now in business together. I gave her $50 and she said to meet her back at the same pool hall in two days where she would return my investment plus an extra $25. I left and all I could think about was that scene in “Scarface” where Al Pacino says, “Say hello to my little friend.” Ok, Ok, Ok! I know what you are thinking. Not only did that sound corny but you’re probably also thinking I would never see Bambi again much less my 50 bucks…see you on the next blog.