The Butterfly Nebula — Beatrice’s Diary

March 13, 2015

I wanted to keep a diary to record our nights at the observatory (the days too, but especially the nights) and our drive across America. Unfortunately I haven’t written much about the drive out here and I think that part of the reason is because I’ve been so excited and alert, watching everything from the car and hardly resting at all. I can thank Soren for this wonderful experience; he’s been generous (not to mention calm and patient in putting up with me!) I think he now has a better understanding of us and I’m grateful that he has warm and friendly feelings toward Laura, and that he cares for Laura as a co-worker even if he is technically her boss.

Tonight we’re going to meet Adam and Eve! How absurd that sounds, but that is their names, and Virgil somehow knew their names—also a bizarre coincidence—though we never discovered how Virgil had come by that bit of information . . . I stare at this intricate and intensely beautiful bracelet on my wrist, at its gods and totems and songs and seasons, and believe it’s a symbolic link in the chain between my past and my future. And yet there is only the Present.

Last night, driving across the Great Plains, across the Texas Panhandle, I had something like an out of body experience. I may have dozed off for a few minutes, but being in the middle of nowhere, in a moving vehicle, at 3:00 in the morning, I became completely disoriented, as if I was suspended somewhere in space and drifting through the night, leaving my body to merge with the endless landscape. I truly felt disembodied for maybe half a minute, and I wondered if my baby came along with me when I left my body or stayed tethered by the umbilical cord, tied to the mother ship, while I traversed a small sector of the astral plane. But more likely he or she joined me and both our bodies—the cashew or tiny shrimp that would eventually become her body—stayed anchored of course on prairie earth while our spirits blew through the big western night like a pair of joined milkweed thistles.

And then the white dove at sunrise on the desert, flying above our heads. And then the roadside stand, Virgil, and the bracelet. . . .

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