another latitude

I drank too much coffee yesterday, and today I cut my fingers with aluminum foil while making tents for the fish. The semester just ended and you’ll be glad to know that it went well. The little pinpoints of light are starting to form constellations, and I’d rather stay now to watch what the constellations tell me than leave for another latitude. I want to go deeper into this one. 

I have an internship at the university’s museum, and it’s lovely. Through my work with an upcoming exhibition, I’ve learned that Robert Hooke, as well as being a genius and a meticulous scientific artist, was a hunchback and an eccentric. Van Leeuwenhoek didn’t speak any English when he came to the Royal Society, and sat alone in a cell working on experiments and drawing by oily lamplight. Maria Sibylla Merian traveled with her daughter — unchaperoned by males! Unheard of in the late seventeenth century — to Suriname, where she squinted at caterpillars and classified insects unknown to Europe, and painted exquisite spiders being stalked by hungry birds. The world of early scientific knowledge is filled with these flickering figures, lit only by candles magnified by glass. They fought against religious battles stronger even than the ones that scientists face now — the Great Chain of Being was lithographed into every leather volume, bound with precious metal, too expensive and stationary to budge in the minds of the public and the velvet-cloaked sponsors. When you think of Hooke, and Wren, and Grew and Newton and Merian, make sure you use the proper term for them: revolutionaries. Brilliant brains with silver swords attached to their fingers, cutting through the darkness of superstition and custom and letting all the stars burn. 

Besides the scientists and their watercolors, lithographs, and copper plate engravings, I’ve been contemplating the future (way too much). I let the possibilities worry me too much — where will we be when I’m finished with this? Why do I want to stay here? If I ask nicely can we stay here? These questions tumble around my skull and combine with the already excited neurons (stimulated by caffeine, of course) and I’m left with more questions than I started with. It’s too much. What I need is to be quiet. Look at the caterpillars. Wait for fireflies to come out. They live here, you know. All the places that bring me peace are here. I feel as though I’m asking the Universe a huge favor to hold on tight instead of letting go. I’ve been afraid to get close to people and places all my life because I know that eventually they’ll be snatched away from me. I need to accept that it’s better to lose the things you love than to have nothing to love to begin with. And I want these things to be green and pink and white and purple and blue. Azaleas and rhododendron and crumbling old buildings that fireflies blink through. I’ll never stop crossing my fingers for this. 

Maria Sibylla Merian, Passion flower plant and flat-legged bug, c. 1701-5

Maria Sibylla Merian


3 thoughts on “another latitude

  1. So glad you are enjoying school and things are coming together for you, Chrissy! Hope you do get what you are wanting, if that is to stay, and to continue building a life you love!! XOXO-Kasey

  2. Yay! So glad that even with time passing, we stick around and wait to connect again, too. I love writing here. 🙂 XO

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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