Oil

Back in January 2016, I visited a friend stationed in Hawaii. This was due more to luck of timing rather than actual planning. The Force Awakens had loosened its grip on the universe, and I had no side jobs lined up, so I was able to take the time off work on a whim. This of course had the side effect of having no itinerary other than "see Oahu".

My friend serves in the Navy, and a side perk of Navy dress uniform is free addmitance to the U.S.S. Missouri, so that moved Pearl Harbor to the top position in my non-existant plan. But the first stop that day was the Arizona.

As you get close to the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, the air reeks of oil. It gets up in your nose and overwhielms any other smell. No salt-tinged sea breeze, just oil.

To call the Arizona a memorial is almost a disservice. It is a tomb. You wander in a dazed silence knowing that the bodies of one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven men—killed in an instant as an explosion ripped through the hull—lay buried beneath the waves. But the smell of oil lingers, more permanant than the stench of death itself.

My friend took my picture, so I'd have something to show and share. I didn't really want him to. This isn't a memory or a place you visit and plaster all over Facebook. I've never shared the photo. I don't need it to remember. I have the smell.