Week 26. Science questions

I sleep with a teddy bear many nights.  The bear is a dog named Silly Billy. I dig my fingers into his brown fur, the center of his head presses against my sternum while his ears touch either shoulder and his stub of a tail presses about an inch below my belly button.  Holding him keeps my shoulders and hips aligned so I dont wake in pain.  I tell my husband Silly Billy sleeps with us for the ergonomics, he is happy for anything that wards off the insomnia that came and never left with pregnancy.

Silly Billy is not sneezy or dusty though his fur is mangy.  Not velvety soft, but his body is satisfyingly mushy to hug. I’ve never washed him, its been twenty-nine years.

Do you think, Natalie, that he has a microbiome in his fur?  That snuggling him is not just finding comfort in a mushy personification? Could the microbes of my childhood teddy bear be the secret of his comfort? Do they trigger memories of safety, like a newborn recognizing its mother by smell? Or are they what makes my childhood self seem like an inner layer of skin, just moments ago, fresh blood?

Medium: sharpie, water colors, Pilot silver marker.

Lately, each time I try to meditate, I find myself thinking of Mount St. Helens, which erupted before I was born, yet is somehow part of my consciousness, easily accessible. In a survey a few years ago, researchers found that one third of kids 6-11 feared natural apocalypse. The movie “Pompeii” carried a warning that kids under 5 “may not understand.”

In 1815, Indonesia’s Mount Tambora erupted, and it snowed in Europe all summer, though people didn’t know why. Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein. In 1988, I blocked my bedroom door with pillows against my parents’ pumice carpet cleaner, afraid it would return to lava if the day got too hot. In 1990, I learned that the earth was 4,000 years old. In 1997, I transferred schools and found myself so happy to be acquainted with my long Australopithecus and Homo ancestry, to be trusted with the span of geologic time.

E, do you think we carry geologic time in our bodies, events that happened long before we showed up? Do you think eruption and earthquake, long seethes and grindings, lakes turned to desert, are marked in us somewhere, that we’re walking measurements of climate and upheaval we can barely access? Did the paroxysmal eruption of Mount St. Helens, wave of rock and gas some say overtook the speed of sound, marry the Cold War terrors in my parents’ generation so deeply, that for years, I couldn’t sleep for fear of volcanoes?

Materials: Pigma Micron pen 01

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