Oh Horton plaza, how have the mighty fallen. Back in 2008, when I out-processed from my active duty career, the outdoor mall nestled against the NBC building was vibrant and classy, with a great food court, a nice book store and a number of interesting shops featuring in their displays a truly interesting plethora of items, now contrasting with the run down canyon of empty food stalls, pop clothing, abandoned movie theater opposite of the obligatory and parasitic Hot Topic and Gamestop featuring the same generic products you could just order online from Amazon and ThinkGeek. Uck. Bookstores are truly dead when they sell VHS on spinner racks next to the stack of well worn used sci-fi novels across from displays of plastic Cosplay gear that seems to pop up in the weirdest places in San Diego. A random assortment of “for Dummies” books covering topics such as ‘geting rid of Spam’ and “Internet Explorer 7′ finally convinces me that there isn’t anything I want in a this collection of establishments. Soon a skate park will be installed here when the Nordstrom relents and moves uptown.
I contemplate with serious but detached analysis that I am becoming more detached and analytical, building shields around my mind, getting my heart ready for leaving everyone I care about and to make friends no one can guarantee me I will even know the following week. It’s in the training, there’s a pamphlet on it, the chaplain briefs it; on the way your mind will naturally adapt to new and stressful environments by distancing you from the ones you love. You realize you will just have to hope your family will understand. You can tell them what your thinking, but they will get it or not and there is not a damn thing you can do about it but preserver and open your tri-folder looking for your next appointment in the morning.
There will be more waiting. A brief. You’ll eat another club sandwich at the base bowling alley. A smiling Corpsman will take your blood and you will make small talk. Its not a bad day, but the way it deceptively feels like just another normal day, while you know normal days are numbered and growing few gnaws on your complacent-ness and you feel the hyper-awareness of an animal knowing it will soon be in a life and death situation boot up and begin to assert itself. Its all normal. Its all planned, see right there on the check out sheet. Check. Check. Check. Ding.
Done. Ready. Todd