. . . notes from Janey
If the current thought of modern science is correct, and every atom that is in my body today came into existence from the Big Bang, then I am one big cosmic star system, with pieces of Pluto and Pilates mixed in with bone and blood. It’s an incredible concept when you think about it.
One lone hydrogen atom, miniscule and magnificent that is residing in my body today had other lives, other missions, other jobs. What an incredible journey it must have taken until it landed in me. Was it once floating in the rings of Saturn? Was it part of a Triceratops’ eggshell? How about in spittle coming from a Neanderthal’s lips? Did it come to Earth in the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs? Was it in the green glop on the bottom of a thermal pool in Iceland, surviving a billion years of ice?
I can feel it sometimes – this rogue atom itching just beneath my skin, making itself known. I envision him looking a bit like James Dean, a cigarette dangling from a half smile. There’s a restlessness in its movements as it cruises through my veins. Anxious for the next experience, never satisfied with its progress, always looking for something more.
I’d like to think that it’s been with me a long time, entering my body through the icy taste from a half-pint of milk we got mid-afternoon in grade school. That was about the time I noticed there was something more to me – something unexplainable happening on the inside. Too young to form the question and with no one to ask even if I could, this hydrogen atom became a tour guide, holding the light, helping me remember my cosmic connection. Before it came, I thought I was just Janey and nothing more.
I almost lost this tiny entity a few times. A rusty nail attached to a board gouged through my little foot when I ran out into the back orchard unattended. The atom hung back from the gush of blood, and instead became part of the healing crust forming over the deep wound. Years later it flowed in a tear down my cheek when a close friend was killed in a car wreck on a lonely Wyoming road. Luckily it reabsorbed through my skin from my wet pillow, making it back to familiar ground and the world it knew.
Nothing has daunted its irrepressible spirit, of which I’m grateful. Not even the radiation treatments for breast cancer. It dodged the killing rays, and instead, attached itself to healthy cells. It thrived and kept reminding me that I would too, eventually.
Like an old married couple, we’ve been together a long time, and now I’m wondering what will happen to it when this body, its universe, is just a pile of ash dug deep into a garden, becoming food for flowers and worms. It will grow bored, I know, living in such a dark place and will struggle to reach a perch drenched in sunlight.
And then one day, an inquisitive traveler won’t be able to resist smelling an exquisite bloom on a deep green bush. A small smudge of pollen on his skin is all it will take for my little friend to swan dive through a pore.
Once inside, my James Dean atom will straddle a white blood cell like a Harley. With a half smile and its cap pulled down to shade the secret of the universe, it’ll barrel down the artery highway with joy and abandon, heading toward the ankle or the heart, the destination unimportant.
The new body will never know what hit him, but he’ll soon find out.
(Article and photos by Janey Wing Kenyon)
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