When our first born spat up as a baby, which she did rarely, she was all animal. She’d look up at me, her eyes sparkling or in tears depending on her general hunger but independent of the specifics of her digestion, and she seemed only to repeat one of her endless variations of the mantra of her existence: “I am.” Nothing had happened because nothing was happening. She was there, and I was there, and that was all.
As a toddler she came into language. “I threw up,” she said one night. An event occurred. She had noticed. No longer nursed on gentle alkaloid milk: “My throat hurts.” A sip of water and she was back to bed. Done. Her experience with that miraculous event of bodily possession, demons of subconscious and bellyconscious, brain stem and gut flora shouting, “My name is Legion,” was over. “Goodnight, daddy.”
She threw up again last night. With self awareness comes notself awareness, knowledge that she did not throw up but something within her, something that also lays claim to “I,” did. Now her physical and metaphysical pain has created fear. “I don’t want to throw up!” There is nothing she can run from, nothing she can meaningfully fight against. This fear is useless to babies and animals and her, although later it will cause her to clutch her armrests during turbulence, shy away from parties, and read the news. (At least, if she takes after her father). Sometimes we are not in control.
Like primitive man her fear begat a longing for understanding. “Why is this happening?” Germs, to her, like our ancestors, may as well be spirits. But for now her pantheon is innocent. Invisible and capricious spirits are better than invisible and malicious ones, which reign far above the invisible and righteous.
She was not being punished. She just threw up.