The State of My Union


I’ve seen my fair share of shit in my life.  I’ve been around for the good times.  I’ve been around for the bad times.  I’ve been around for some highs and some very lows.  I’ve been part of things both big and small.  I was a participant in the theater of war.  I have seen what a F-14 naval fighter jet looks like while heavily loaded with 36 missiles.  I have been witness to politicians using soldiers, sailors and airmen as props to serve in their political agenda, and I have experienced what it truly feels like to be lonely.  The kind of loneliness where the only voice that matters was thousands of miles away.

As bad as it sounds, it really isn’t.  I am perfectly comfortable with the fact that I will never amount to anything.  I will always be a nobody vying for the attention of other nobodies.  Those are the cards that I was dealt.  I like to tell myself that I was the perfect somebody in one of my past lives, and this state of nobody-ness is somehow some sort of recompense.  

Along the way, on my road to a shitty nobody, I’ve had many dreams and aspirations.  I wanted to be the greatest drummer of all time.  And when that didn’t pan out I wanted to be the greatest guitarist of all time.  The greatest mountain biker of all time.  The greatest skateboarder of all time.  The greatest pilot of all time.  The greatest surfer of all time, and yes–the greatest writer of all time.  It’s nice to have dreams and aspirations, but after all my stumbles and failures it never occurred to me to just be the best Orlando Balla.  Orlando Balla, that is who I am.  That is the name given to me at birth.  That is the name that has always been a constant in my life.  It has been with me in all my travels.  It is the name on my drivers license, library card, credit cards, rental agreement and car note.  It is how people refer to me, despite all their cute little nicknames they have for me, and in the end that’s all I have.  That’s all we have. When we die, all the things we spent our lives trying to pursue mean nothing.  However, the only thing that matters in death is our name.

“Did you hear that Billy died?” “Fuck Billy! He was a bum”

My grandmother, in her clever way, has always told me that I might not be the greatest looking person in the World, but I have my name.  And that is something to be proud of.  I always wake up in the morning, with my head up high, and go to work.  I pay my bills on time.  I show up for events on time.  I treat others the way they treat me.  I speak up for the voiceless, and at times I paid a bitter price for it.  That is who I am.  

I am Orlando Balla.  I am a nobody vying for the attention of other nobodies, and when I die if any one of you call me a fucking bum I’m gonna kick your ass.

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