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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The adventure continues


Last month I wrote about my youngest daughter’s “Big Adventure.” I received a lot of positive feedback, and heard from readers about their own life’s beginnings and adventures.

In coming up with this month’s column, I can’t help but reflect on my own Big Adventure. I was just beginning my second trimester of my senior year at North Central College in January 1983. Renae and I had just started dating; I was getting a lot of hours at friend’s moving company; I was looking forward to the future.

During my sophomore year, I had signed up for a delayed Navy entry program, which would kick in sometime after graduation. The official orders arrived in the mail mid-January, two years later. In Navy speak, I was to report no later than May 21, to Pensacola, Florida, to begin Officer Indoctrination and Aviation Officer Candidate School.

I raced over to the Registrar’s Office to ensure I had enough credit hours to graduate. I had them check and double check. If I passed all of my current classes, they explained, I would have enough hours to graduate in March, just before spring break.

For the first time in my mediocre educational career, I didn’t miss a class, and even aced the entire syllabus. This left me two months of idyllic slacking before meeting and getting intimately familiar with my Marine Drill Instructor.

I received my commercial airline tickets a few weeks later, bought and paid for by Uncle Sam. I couldn’t believe the US Government was actually going to pay for my flight down to Florida. It didn’t get any better!

Renae and I saw as much of each other as possible. I wasn’t certain that a long-distance relationship would work, but she was already planning on visiting me at my various ports of call. My Dad was as proud of me as I’d ever seen him, (that’s not saying much, as my teenaged delinquency had been the main reason for his greying hair). My Mom was worried, of course, but never let on, and was always encouraging.

On the morning of May 21, she prepared a huge buffet and invited friends and family for my farewell brunch. Afterward, they all accompanied me to ORD, where I said my final goodbyes. The Adventure was underway!

Forty years later, plinking away on the computer, I am comforted by the fact that the Adventure is never ending. My wife, my girls and my life continue to evolve. I meet new friends and enjoy new experiences all the time. In the year that I have been contributing to PN, I have heard from so many wonderful people. I am grateful for the adventure that’s been my life.

Here’s to another year of adventures!

P. Araya
P. Araya
Pablo Araya grew up in Naperville and enjoys writing about his experiences in the Navy, the FBI and growing up in the best town around. Contact Pablo at boblow9913@gmail.com.