So I was thinking that, not being musical (seriously — tin ear, the whole bit, although I like listening to music) I can’t appreciate what it’s like to lose a natural ability suddenly.

But then I thought maybe I can.

BACKGROUND: I was on a boomer (ballistic missile submarine) for training during my senior year at the Naval Academy. Since it was a full patrol (10 weeks, under water the whole time) I was trained and stood regular watches as a Diving officer of the Watch (DOOW) at the front end of the boat. The DOOW keeps the sub on an even trim at neutral buoyancy during the watch, which is no big deal when moving along at a several knots a couple hundred feet down, but gets tricky when coming to periscope depth (there’s wave action, slow speeds so the periscope doesn’t make a wake, other factors).

But by the time we came off patrol I could balance that 425' 8K ton sub on my fingertip and spin it like a Globetrotter. Okay, not really, but I could feel that boat in my bones. I knew where the water was in each tank, and how she was balanced, and I knew exactly how much to tell the Chief of the Watch to pump and how much to tweak the control planes* and when it was a BAD DAY to be at periscope depth so could we maybe have another knot of speed please, Officer of the Watch. I was a fuckin’ kickass DOOW.

It was magical.

And then I graduated and got nuclear training and completed that and was flying back from leave on a commercial flight that was 99.5% successful at making it to our destination and had my head banged up real bad and had a traumatic brain injury. That went undiagnosed. So I got on my new sub, and qualified to stand watches in the back end of the boat, and went to qualify again as DOOW and…

It was gone.

No more magic. I could do the math to figure our how to balance the boat, but I had to run the equations twice because they were just numbers. I didn’t know what the boat was doing. It was just a big hollow metal tube with people and water in it. I couldn’t feel it in my bones any more.

So did that make any sense, Sass?**

(Thanks for the inspiration, Nyx!)

*Those flat things that stick out of the sides and back of a sub. They push the boat up and down and at angles.

**DOG: And that, Sass, is how you can tell 57 different things about a room when you walk in, just from smells.
SASS: (scritches the dog behind the ears) Good boy! Biscuit?

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Husband & retiree. Developer, tech writer, & IT geek. I fill what’s empty, empty what’s full, and scratch where it itches. Occasionally do weird & goofy things.

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