The Fall came and I prepared for my transition into the civilian world. My spirits were numb and it didn't seem at all like what I'd expected 20 years earlier when I imagined retiring from the Air Force as a celebration. I had strong underlying bitterness. I'd tried to make a life for myself and I tried to do the right thing and the common thread throughout the entire 20 years of service was that people were not trustworthy, people could not be depended on, and life is better lived to one's own standard. I didn't allow myself any close relationships. I had friends at work and they stayed at work. Women were not worth my time anymore; I'd paid too high a price for trying to find the right woman. I don't know if a worthy woman exists.
In late October I rode my last century (100-mile ride) with Roberto, a co-worker who had wanted to do a big ride with me. It was peaceful. To my surprise, Roberto, who never did seem up to my ability in short rides, started off fast and I had a little trouble keeping up. I knew I wasn't riding well but I thought I could handle Roberto. By the time we reached 60 miles, however, Roberto had blown up and I finally felt secure that I could outride him. Still, based on the rides we'd had on base, Roberto impressed me. He had a lot of spunk.
Ken and Gizmo were close. We would take Gizmo to the store with us, and he'd sit in Ken's minivan to watch us shop. Ken was a good friend, and we haven't spoken since we parted that December. The only way I could be comfortable with this retirement was to look at it as a running-away from society. I'd had it with people who claimed civility but only wanted depravity.