My wife and I visited Annapolis for the first time in two years. We met up with her father and step-mother for three days in the waterside city. We rented a small townhouse a few hundred yards from the center of downtown. It was a historic house with a nautical feel. The owner was a Naval Academy grad and his bookshelves were filled with the seafaring tales of Patrick O’Brien.

The house itself was situated on a cozy side street, hedged in by two parallel rows of similar homes. A crisp breeze blew continually from the waterfront, and the blustery weather ensured the use of winter coats and hats. Winter raised its icy head as we traversed up and down Main Street under the shadow of the Maryland state house.

Taking pictures took place in-between meals. I was not phased by the paparazzi feel of it, because I was so focused on the cobblestone streets and the enjoyment of people-watching shuffling crowds around the city. We toured the Naval Academy and memories of formations, marching, inspections and the other-worldly feel of military life came rushing back.

It is now almost ten years ago since my military “career” (three and a half short years of military school) ended. The architecture and prestigious nature of the school had eluded me in my younger years. There was a severe lack of appreciation for the path that laid before me. In the end, I was unaware of the longevity of life and the long-term repercussions of cutting a budding military career too short.

However, I don’t think I would change my decision. I have become a more well-rounded and worldly individual. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like had I stayed in, but the frivolity of such thoughts quickly disintegrates as I look at my son. My world is now my family, and I’m not sure if I would have ever been lucky enough to have such a loving environment had I pursued my previously chosen course. I guess it was not meant to be…but at the same time, all of it was.

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