I feel old.
August 16, 1988 was a traumatic day for me--part of the worst year of my life. It was the last time I saw my father alive, and even though I didn't know that would be the case, I should have. He was too sick then for any other possibility. Only my emotional numbness kept me from realizing it, from considering the possibility that maybe I should wait a while before leaving my family. A week later I took leave, bought an overpriced, last-minute airplane ticket, was suited up in a hastily-tailored set of dress whites, and flew home to attend his funeral.
And then I went back to the navy. It took me a while to realize I hated working on electronics, a little longer to realize I was a pacifist, and maybe another decade to want to be a human. And now my life has come together so well it's like that year--those years--happened to someone else. I think of my desperation in the months following basic training and I know I'm not capturing how disabled I was. I know I can't recreate the emotional paralysis I felt. And I don't want to. There was a time when I thought I'd never feel any differently, and now I can't even remember it completely.
This sounds like a seventeen-year-old's poetry.
Suffice it to say that life is much better now. On August 16th.
And as an added bonus, here's a blurry copy of my boot camp picture:
I did, too.