I’ve had a difficult time explaining exactly what it is I’m mourning. As with many things, it’s not that I don’t want to talk about it; it’s that I haven’t yet found a way to do so that feels true and satisfactory. But time is short and I want to trap this feeling of being on the periphery in amber. I want to be able to examine it in months or years as something tangible – something that felt murky and hard but eventual, worthy – in case it all goes bad. The dream was real once, within the realm of the adjacent possible, and that will stay true even if it won’t ever be achievable again.
In that spirit, here is a building block that is true:
The summer before my last year in college, it came out that a partial Hepatitis B vaccination campaign was either harnessed or construed in an attempt to identify the presence of Osama bin Laden in his compound via genetic tracing through his children. At the time I was a mediocre and indecisive bioengineer, latching on to international health as a motive for design and action, but still irrevocably drawn to human systems: how to forge big ones that work, & how to stop them from so dramatically falling over themselves over after complacency settles. So all of this prompted the sort of bizarre aspiration that can be spirited into being when you are 21 and just old enough to feel formed, but then everything shakes and you’re stunned lucid.