Tonight I found myself sitting on the back porch smoking a cigar and enjoying a cheap cup of instant hot cocoa while I pondered how I got to where I am. I'm 28 years old, in a few short months to be of 29 years of age; I have parents who love me and try to be supportive of me; a lovely wife who (though she may not believe it) is the most beautiful and attractive woman I have ever met shares my home and my life with me; numerous friends and acquaintances who for whatever reason deign to share my existence; and am doing well enough in my classes despite a general lack of dedication to my studies this semester.
Among my friends I can count a handful of folks who have known me for over a decade. Some of them are folks I have never met face-to-face, who I feel guilty for not having been more dedicated to in the past or the present. I have a very supportive family from all aspects, especially when you consider how much some of them have been burnt by the same problems and tasks which now enumerate my existence. All in all, I should be pleased with how things have gone so far in what should be the first third of my life. Instead, I am nearly brought to tears by my good fortune and by past mistakes.
Just a few short years ago, I was head over heals in love with a girl from near Cincinatti. I left her in the dust in a very bad way to pursue my current relationship, because deep down I knew I had been trying to replace the woman who is now my wife. I had been doing so for as long as I could remember, and it was but for a night of conversation with a friend as a go-between that I would have never seen the error of my ways.
Looking back upon those times, and the events that led toward that time, I am utterly amazed. I never could apply myself to my studies of engineering or the humanities, and yet now I can debate with the best of them, and am in one of the top-rated programs for aviation technologies in these troubled United States! I've just this day made a commitment to finally carry through all the effort Yaneyama Megumi sensei invested in me back in 2000 and begin to truly study Japanese language and culture in order to pass the Japanese Language Proficiency Tests, starting with the lowest level. The wife has suggested I might be able to pass the level 4 or even the level 3 by the end of my time here at TSTC-Waco, which would tickle me pink in all honesty. I truly feel I won't be worthy, no matter how much improvement I make past reading the labels on my food!
Other things from the past have been welling up tonight. Before I (as I sometimes feel and suspect my family feels) abandoned my family up north, I had several 'close' friends who were of like mind, and witnessed the dedication and compassion that comes with a lifetime of love and marriage as my grandfathers took ill and passed on. In no small part, I am given comfort by the fact that if they so chose in the afterlife, they have a place in my home. It is a small family shrine called a mitamaya, which my wife and I commissioned and helped prepare under the direction of Reverend Barish-sama at Tsubaki GS in Washington, the same place we were married before the kami. That they were professed Christians matters not to me - if the Christians are correct and I am wrong, then hopefully the souls and guardian angels of my family will guide us through this artifact of our own energetic creation.
I remember long nights spent upon the internet, talking to distant friends (some of whom I have met since then) at my friend Graham's homes around the area where we grew up. The poor guy hit some hard times and made poor decisions later in life, and I abandoned him. If he even knows it to be so, I hope he can forgive me. He and his family showed me such good times; many of my fondest memories are of playing Medal of Honor: Allied Assault or the original Halo online. Even today, my stories of the craziness that came from Graham's dedication to technologies that were above my head bring laughter from my friends and classmates who remember 56K modems and spending all night downloading that one .midi that they wanted from an FTP server.
Of particular mirth and awe is the fact that, due to his mother's estate sale shopping and alimony, Graham had been able to purchase AV/TV output cards and a "primitive" wireless keyboard-mouse combination for our enjoyment. We played many a night away in our late teens, shooting Krauts in the face with Thompsons or annihilating the pink-clad SPARTANS which assailed us. All of the good times he showed me, and I ditched him because of some choices a few years ago which I held against him. My Maturity shows itself in annoyingly slow fashion at times, while Immaturity rears its ugly head with far too easy access for my liking.
I can recall spending hours online, developing personal relationships which continue to this day, albeit in forms I never could have conceived. I chased after affection, never realizing until 2007 who it was I was actually seeking - and even then, it took a completely twisted, almost catastrophic turn to get myself the fortitude to make my opinions and desires known. I was damned near internet addiction for 1999-2004, and yet even now I spend more time online. It's what is accepted, even expected (especially given how much of my studies are turned in on-line).
Even with all of that, I have to admit I have a good life and a decent time of things. I've managed to pull through my semester with As and Bs after years of having not been a full-time student. I smoke more than I ought to, and once in a while I drunk to excess... but you know what? I've got a wife whom I love (and who loves me in return), two cats who miss me if I even go outside to dispose of the litter box scoopings, a family that loves me and friends who keep in contact despite the distances betwixt us. I'm strong in my faith that the kami will guide me if its necessary or warranted to what I should be doing, and above all else - I'm beginning to be "okay" with myself.
With that knowledge comes the responsibility to once again improve myself. I should be in better shape, and I certainly should practice more of what I preach and what I expect of others. Life is a learning process, and while I am no less a student than anyone else, I should know and do better by now. Hopefully I will be as worth the effort others continue to allocate to me!