Navy Skin

My father has been proudly serving in the United States Navy for over thirty years.

 

He’s only ever had, only ever wanted the one job. He is what his job is and he’s never wanted to be anything else.

 

But he’ll be retiring soon.

 

Hanging up his navy skin, and I don’t know what color he will be underneath it.

 

I think he will still be the same. His years wearing the clothes of his job have stained his skin in the same pattern and though he can turn in his uniform and give his last salute, his bones will still carry the badges and his feet will still feel the shifting of oceans below him.

 

But when what you have been for years and years is no longer something you can claim, something to sink into and hide away, a warmth and familiarity to cover yourself in when the skin of your face feels too thin, when all of that security is gone, what is left of what you were?

 

Who are you when who you were is no longer yours?

 

Can you be the same? If you give so much of yourself away, do you get it back years later, or is it gone, forfeit to the person you are now.

 

Time and space have a funny way of not existing except in their absence.

 

You never know what you aren’t, you only know what you were.

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