Stripping Down

No, not like that.  Get your minds out of the gutter!

This is the one-year anniversary of Sparks1524.com here on WordPress, so that’s a milestone right there.  Yes, for my loyal followers (all two of you), I know I’m still behind on the fifth Isaac Shepherd mystery, The Hanged Man.  Work with me; I’ve been busy.

Busy stripping down.

Every picture has been taken down from the walls and staged in one room, the nail holes spackled and filled.  Every knick knack I own is on the dining room table and furniture.  It is staged, easily accessible by the movers…and by me.  I have been making very hard choices, letting go of boxes and boxes of things.  Things that did have meaning and were fun, but things I need to be free of.  I’ve stripped down the house.

I retire from the Navy Sept. 30.  My ceremony will be Sept. 22, and then on Sept. 25 the packers will come.  I’m selling the Yellow Duck (my house).  Even if I luck out and find work here in the Tidewater, I don’t need a large, family-sized home by myself.  It was a great house when I had a family.  It sheltered me quite lovingly here in Suffolk, Virginia, during the divorce and as I rebuilt my life after coming out as a gay man.

But…I have found no partner to share it with.  It’s just too big, and while the mortgage payment is ridiculously small for a home this size, I still can’t afford it if I don’t find immediate work and have to exist on my Navy pension alone.  So, I’ve got it on the market and really hope it sells by the end of the month.  If not…I’m on the hook for the mortgage and basic upkeep until it does, so I need to be ready to cut my overall living expenses significantly just in case.

I’m ready to jump.  I just need to know which way to jump now.

If I find work here in the Hampton Roads area or anywhere else, I’ll find a small apartment or town house.  If not, then on Oct. 1 after I finish out-processing from the Navy I’ll drive home and move in with my folks in Niceville, Florida, temporarily until I land a new job and start career #2  (yes, I’m from Niceville, Florida!).

I’ve taken the option the Navy offers of having my stuff put in long-term storage for up to a year.  This way, even if I land work somewhere in the next three weeks, I won’t be under so much pressure to find lodgings.  I might luck out and find a permanent place right off, and then just have my stuff delivered, or I can just get a small, furnished place for a few months, giving me the chance to look around wherever I land at a more leisurely pace.  All very logical, sensible, and full of foresight.

And difficult.  I love this house very much, but it needs a family.  And I need to be in someplace much smaller.  I will never have the traditional family or home I dreamed of.  That’s just a fact of life, so in this next “regeneration” (to use my favorite Doctor Who metaphor) I need to be more mobile.

And, frankly, it’ll be nice to have less things to dust!

This Labor Day weekend has been hard.  I’ve had to do the heavy lifting and moving of stuff and emotional processing alone.  Most of those who would have helped me were instead diverted to supporting coverage of the relief efforts from the tragic strike of Hurricane Harvey in Texas (remember, I’m part of the public affairs community, so we mobilize when things happen).

But it has left me on my own.  Again, much like the Doctor in Doctor Who often finds himself alone when he regenerates into his next form.  And like the Doctor I’m finding I don’t want to go.  I like being a Sailor, and a Chief Petty Officer.  But this is the right time for me to make this jump into a new life, a life finding out who Nathanael is without the uniform.  I’ve literally wanted to be in the Navy since I was six (even during periods when I decided not to go in the military growing up, the Navy still dominated my thinking).

The Navy will always be part of me.  I will always remember when the Sailor was Me.  But we all must change as dictated by our individual stories.  Even if I could reenlist now I wouldn’t.

For over twenty years I expected this moment to find me surrounded by my own family and in a permanent home as I started career #2.  Part of that was me wanting family, part of that was the cultural mindset coming from having been born in 1971 and growing up before the digital revolution began retooling career realities.  And…all that was set in my head long before I realized I was gay (much less came out).

I am a relic of a bygone cultural/industrial age…but not a relic without relevance!  You see, unlike many of my peers in the old Photographer’s Mate rating, I made a conscious choice to embrace the future as the digital revolution changed everything.  I am a relic that connects that older cultural/industrial era with our modern age because I chose to change with times (more on that topic in a future column).  I have a very unique perspective on it all.

It’s hard to face an unknown future.  To quote a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode (yes, I said My Little Pony!): “I don’t know how to travel to a future that I can’t see.”

But to that character’s lament about the uncertainty of her future, she is reassured in song:

“Know that your time is coming soon.  As the sun rises, so does the Moon.  As love finds a place in every heart…you’ll play your part.”

I know the day is coming when the waiting ends and the new future begins.  But (to mix the TV metaphors again by bringing in Doctor Who back) I’m in that moment when the regeneration energy is suffusing the Doctor’s body; a quantum fire of raging life force flaring up…but not yet the moment when the new person emerges.

So…stay tuned.  The regeneration scene is finally upon me!

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