Gray Matter


My Bucket List, the Places I’ve Been and the Things I’ve Done

RT Cunningham | July 11, 2020 (UTC) | Retirement

bucket listThere are things a person might want to cross off on a bucket list, but I don’t have any. As I quickly approach my senior years, I think I’ve had enough of just about everything.

The term “bucket list” originated as the title of the 2007 movie, “The Bucket List” (which I’ve never seen). It means a list of all the things you want to do before you die. I honestly have nothing new (that I can think of) I want to do before I die. If I actually do something new, I’m not so sure if it will be the result of something I actually want to do.

To understand what I mean, you have to understand where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I can’t tell you about other things until I cover all of this.

Living in What Many People Consider Paradise

I was raised in a podunk Arizona city of less than 10,000 people in the 60s and early 70s. In the mid-70s, I spent about three and a half years living on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. My father worked for a company that paid the rent for our family’s three-bedroom, one-bath house, which was more than 300 dollars a month in the 70s. The two-bedroom, single-bath apartment I’m temporarily living in on Oahu today costs more than 2000 dollars a month.

Many Americans want to vacation in exotic places, and Hawaii is one of the places they dream of. I’ve already lived that dream, three times over. The second time was when I was stationed with the Marine Corps at Kaneohe Bay in the 1980s. If I never return to any of the islands of Hawaii again, it will be too soon.

My Military Years

I started early, about two months before my 18th birthday, which was three months later than I intended. By the time I left home, I had barely recovered from a highway accident that occurred shortly before my intended enlistment date.

I went through basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, with a limp during most of it. My class “A” schools (two of them) were at Camp Pendleton, about 30 miles north, after I completed basic training. I ended up back at the depot as my first duty station after school, and I lived in an off-base apartment for about six months out of two years.

My next duty station was at the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Arizona. It was one of three reenlistment choices. I was only there a year before getting orders again. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was slated to return there after I finished my next tour.

My next tour was with the Marine Corps at Kaneohe Bay, as I previously mentioned. It was a “Marine Corps Air Station” when I was there, but it’s now called Marine Corps Base Hawaii. After a few months, my unit went on a western pacific deployment to the far east. It was supposed to be five-months long, but ended up being more than six because we were redeployed to the Mediterranean Sea for more than a month.

The deployment included two stops in the Philippines (where I met my wife, Josie) and stops in Hong Kong, Kenya, Singapore and Thailand. I don’t remember what order they were in, and I was sick in my bunk during the entire Thailand stop - I didn’t even get off the boat.

I lived in an apartment in Kailua, next to the base, for a few months before getting transferred back to Yuma. Josie joined me in Yuma as my fiancée. We got married a few days later (in 1985) and we’ve been married ever since. We were there for about two years before I got transferred to Okinawa, Japan.

While I spent a year on Okinawa at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Josie spent her year with our two boys at her parents’ home in the Philippines. During her year, she slipped away and spent about six months with me on Okinawa. We lived in a single bedroom apartment over the Genghis Khan restaurant in Ginowan City while she was there. Before and after, I shared a barracks room with at least one other guy.

My next duty station was at an artillery battalion with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. I spent parts of 1990 and 1991 in military operations in the country of Saudi Arabia, dealing with Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. When I was actually in North Carolina, my family and I lived in a mobile home park in a tiny city called Hubert. After four long years, I was transferred again.

I then spent the next four years at the main recruiting station in Phoenix, Arizona. Since I wanted some stability for my family, I bought a house in Phoenix, about seven miles from where I worked downtown. My family remained there when I spent my final two years at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, California, where I lived in bachelor quarters.

After the Military and Retirement

A had a few jobs after I retired from the military. Already drawing a military pension, I wasn’t concerned with making a lot. Josie had been working at the same job since 1993. The last job I had was as an accident claims representative at the largest trucking company in the country (in 2001) and I stayed with them for more than four years.

When the real estate bubble started forming, I was paying attention to home prices. My house cost me some amount above $120,000 in 1994. I sold the house for more than $280,000 in 2006 and used what I had after the loan payoff to quit my job and move to the Philippines. By that time, both of our children were grown and out of the house.

I returned to the United States, in 2012 and 2013, for reasons I won’t get into. By the end of 2014, Josie and I were back at our house in Olongapo, Philippines. In 2018, we decided to return to the United States to visit our children and their families. We got stuck at our current location because our daughter-in-law, Cathy, got pregnant and both she and our son, Jon, needed help. We hope to get out of here by October 2020.

Future Plans

Josie is nine months younger than me. I haven’t reached my “real” retirement age yet - I haven’t reached 62 yet. We’ll be more financially sound when we both start drawing our social security pensions. I can’t predict exactly when either of us will file for our pensions. In the meantime, our children will happily take care of us when we visit them in the United States.

Our intended retirement plan is to spend more time visiting our families in the United States than in the Philippines. At least until we get too feeble to travel. I think I’ve been on almost every mode of transportation available to me: Commercial airlines, buses, helicopters, trains, cars and trucks, jeepneys and tricycles, and Navy ships. I haven’t been on a balloon, an airship, a cruise liner, a submarine or a space shuttle.

The countries I’ve “visited” outside the United States have been mostly in the Far East, the Middle East and Africa, as well as Mexico. Josie’s been to the UK, but I’ve never been to any European country. Neither of us has been to Canada. We haven’t even been in every state.

My Bucket List

Unlike other people in my age group, I’ve never aspired to do anything outrageous. I’ve already done most of the things I wanted to do. There are places I long ago gave up on as not being affordable. The last item on my bucket list was crossed off long ago. Perhaps I’ll mention what some items were on it at some future point.

Even so, I won’t necessarily turn down the opportunity to go some place or do something I can afford to do (even with help) when the situation presents itself. I don’t like to travel, but I can make exceptions. Although I’ve been retired from the military longer than I was in the military, I’m still quite capable of doing more than just online social interaction.

Photo Attribution: Daniel Byram from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other sites in June 2020.

Share: Facebook | Twitter

These Posts May Also Interest You: