Thursday, October 09, 2008

Things I Seriously Considered Doing But Didn't

Going Through the Navy ROTC Program (continued)

When school started at the U, I couldn’t bring myself to attend any classes, let alone the introductory Navy ROTC class. The next week, I threw all my stuff into a cardboard box, abandoned my studio apartment up on Wolcott Street between two frat houses, and jumped on a Greyhound bus with my high-school friend Rick Mittelstaedt to seek our fortunes in Southern California.

We actually lasted for almost two months in California, renting a single guy’s spare bedroom to share and getting jobs at a Jack-in-the-Box on Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point, a resort town where Rick had spent time as a kid. I would’ve rather lived and worked up in actual Los Angeles, but Rick called that shot, I guess. We told people that we were going to establish California residency for a year and then go to UCLA, but I didn’t really believe it deep down.

I have some unsavory memories of the sex-and-drugs debauchery of those California days, and after I returned to Utah I continued my Mormon version of the Amish rumspringa for over another year. Fortunately, I eventually recognized the reality of Satan and snapped out of it without any lasting addictions. I did only about four months of repentance before they sent me on a mission to Australia—today, I don’t think I would’ve been allowed to go at all, and certainly not after so short a time.

I don’t think I would’ve thrived in the hyper-masculine hierarchy and discipline and politics of the military, although I honestly don’t think it would’ve been as overall uncomfortable and depressing for me as my mission was (about which I plan to do some writing soon on this blog). In fact, sometimes I wonder if I actually might have enjoyed aspects of the Navy and learned some useful leadership skills. If I had it to do over again and was offered the choice between serving the mission and taking my chances on the Navy, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the Navy option.

Bottom line: Neither my grandpa nor my dad went on missions as young men, so I have one up on both of them in that department. But eight out of nine of my siblings went on missions, believe it or not, including five sisters.

Next in this series: Moving my family out of state

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