Whales lost their legs over 40 million years ago.
Tired of the dust and the heat, they shook off their terrestrial skin, and became part of the water around them.
And yet, though their legs have long faded away, still all whales are born with pelvic bones, floating unarticulated and completely useless under their skin, reminders of days spent in a world they no longer know.
I think about this, and about pinkie toes, wisdom teeth, tailbones and I wonder what will be vestigial 200,000 years from now.
As we go, we grow out of and into things, leaving parts of us behind, and keeping some ghosts inside.
Past shadows that stay clinging under our skin.
I wonder at the shadows I already have.
It takes my ankle popping for me to remember that I spent eight years as a dancer.
I see the scar on my knee from playing in the woods and wonder when my brother and I stopped being best friends.
I find an old valentine under my bed and wonder when it was that I lost faith in a love that innocent.
I am a constantly evolving creature, changing in accordance with what life demands of me, and I can never say for sure what I will be tomorrow.
I can’t say what will still be functional when I wake up and I fear I cannot control what I outgrow.
What if there is no difference between what we let go and what time and space steal from us?
Is “growing up” just a comforting lie we tell ourselves to explain away the pieces of us that we lose?
How can I hold on to who I am when my hands are constantly changing shape?
Will I one day go to stretch my legs to find them gone? Suddenly will my days in the sun be over? Will I need to find a new home, a new world because I outgrew the space for me in this one?
Life molds us with unforgiving hands, scraping away the parts of us that we can’t justify keeping, shedding skins we’re not ready to let go of.
What parts of me will recede into nothing, unconnected to who I become, lingering just under my skin, pointless but present, a ghost I can no longer see.
Do we look back on our lives and see the people we used to be, dropped like breadcrumbs behind us?
Next time part of me dissolves, will I feel it? Next time I change skins, will it hurt? Next time I look in the mirror, will I recognize who I see?