I can feel my skin, loosening itself, releasing the old scripts, releasing what is not working and plunging in as though it were the first day of my birth. I am thinking of an old friend—may he rest in peace—an old friend whose passion was snakes. He was a snake breeder.

And it is now that I think of the many beautiful reptiles that I laid my eyes upon. Looking in on a new batch of corn snakes, I was reminded of different flavors of pale ice cream. Some of the Mexican snakes were bold black, orange, and yellow of different stripes and patterns. The California king snake stunned me with its black and white stripes; and I always had a soft spot for the western hog nosed snake with its upturned front, which made it appear to have a snout. It is a shorter snake with slightly thick body compared to other slender snakes.

He and I had a strained relationship. We had been lovers and friends and back again. In the end we realized we could only be friends, and at times I was like one of the guys in our escapades. Our friendship trailed off, though. I never had an opportunity to properly say goodbye. I’ve never been good at goodbyes. I’ve exhibited this in jobs, in relationships, and during difficult times. It’s a part of my nature, a sensitive soul that can appear like a rock on the outside—a soul that can retreat without much notice—a need to go away and never look back.

**

Lately, the image of a snake shedding its skin enters her consciousness. She realizes that she is feeling this shedding within herself. She sees the opaque covering, as it gently loosens to reveal a new fresh skin.

She feels at peace. She knows she had many ups and downs with her old friend of late and she knows that even though they drifted apart, they still shared pieces of time that remain. She always does things in her own way that is not always understood by others, but she must do what she must.

Her old friend comes to her mind of course because if not for him, she wouldn’t think of snakes in quite the same way.

She remembers a time when she decided to go with him to a snake show, where many other snake breeders would take their goods and sell them to the interested buyer. One container had a small batch of freshly hatched snakes. She cannot recall the breed, but they were a bit feisty. She took a snake out to show a buyer and the little devil bit her. It didn’t hurt and she didn’t bleed. It was like a pinprick.

Snakes are beautiful creatures. Their skin is smooth and cool to the touch, not slimy in the least bit. They slither along—one long muscle, effortless. I imagine it may seem cruel to keep a snake in captivity and perhaps there is some truth to this—to contain a creature that is used to having a vast amount of space, who then is confined to a small container. I wonder how the snakes feel about this. Since they are bred into captivity, does this lessen the desire to wander—or does the instinct come into force and take over?

She is experiencing the shedding of old skin…and she knows she can keep this image by her side as the coming months close in. She will take it month by month and wriggle out of her skin—remembering the cycle and not fighting it, continuing to embrace the change.

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