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Twisting all the bad things into good

Dec 28, 2015

Brokedown In Paradise

“I will tell you something else, King, which may be a surprise for you. It will not happen for hundreds of years, but both of us are to come back.”
― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

This has nothing to do with anything.

Some years ago, my sister, Kristen, taught English in Taiwan. She told me it was something I should consider. She said I would love Taiwan. And not just because I had a thing for Asian chicks.
She said that I'd be like a rock star there. Because I'm relatively tall, six foot and one and a half inches, and I'm a White American.
She said the Taiwanese people had a thing for Americans: tall ones, even more so.
It made we wanna go there.
It also made we wonder why the Taiwanese didn't just come here.
Lots of tall Americans to look up to.

I kept the thought in the back of my mind for a few years.
It was an ambition, a dream, a chance at reinvention, a hope, a California.
But I would probably never leave Florida.
This is where people come to die.
I was dying everyday. Every night I was killing myself.

The good years passed too quickly.
Then came the bad years that lasted forever.

It was the summer before my 35th birthday. 2010.
It was the worst summer on record.
Come October 28th, I'd be too old to join the military. I didn't want to join the military. My dad mentioned it, a subtle way of telling me my life was going nowhere, and that there's no pension waiting at the end of twenty years for a nobody doing nothing in the middle of nowhere.
I considered it, mostly because of the wars. I wanted to go to war.
I didn't want to get killed or wounded and I didn't really want to kill or wound anyone, but I knew that apprehension would pass as quickly as the first bullet fired in my direction.
Mostly, I wanted to experience something worth writing about.
I'd never written anything, but I'd been delusional long enough to believe I was destined to be a writer. I just needed something to finally happen.
Something that would write itself, preferably while I slept.
But I couldn't sleep.
And nothing kept happening to the nobody on the fifth floor of Nowhere View Apartment #000.

I needed structure and discipline, but I didn't feel like having some Full Metal Jackass in my face barking orders, demanding push ups in the mud, hurting my feelings.
I'm sensitive. And I already felt bad enough about myself without being systematically broken down to a level lower than I'd already crumbled to.
I'd always wanted to run an obstacle course though.

After a few hours of somewhat serious contemplation and sending inquiring emails to pick the brains of friends and cousins living the military life, I admitted I was wasting their time about something I knew I was never gonna do, like become an officer or a gentleman or a writer or a rock star or an actor or a director or a Californian or a tall American English teacher in Taiwan.

Still, I emailed my sister about Taiwan, asking if she still had any contacts in the teaching English abroad business. She said she would get in touch with a few, but she gave me a warning first. I expected the obligatory "don't make me look bad" spiel.
But it was a different spiel.
She said if I went to Taiwan, no matter how tall I am, if I got arrested for drug possession, I'd get the death penalty.
I told her not to worry about wasting her time contacting her old contacts.
Taiwan was off the table.
I had no interest in the locked up and executed abroad business.
I'd already seen that movie.
"Those movies" I should say.
Return To Paradise.
And the chick version I never saw called Brokedown Palace. 
I almost mentioned Midnight Express, about Billy Hayes, the American who was sentenced to life in a Turkish prison for smuggling hash.
But that dude escaped in the end. Then he wrote a book about it.
True story. Then came the movie.
Lucky bastard.

Here's to Billy Hayes. Here's to everyone who never made it out.