Could he have known, like how he knew how to use a tablet from the first touch? Second nature? Other nature? It all started with my performances around immigration to the US. He wanted to know how I would live forever. I thought his question was him facing his mortality. I was digging into ancestry. I told him he was a true American boy, a first generation mother and twelve generations on his father’s side, and that by growing and asking questions he made the first settlers proud, that through him they still lived, and like them I would survive my body’s demise through him. But no dent in his unease.
I insisted that crossing borders and coming to America and making this newer version of me was a chance at immortality. I remembered he’d felt satisfied by the monarch butterfly and the salmon, the first for whom it took several generations to achieve migration, and the second who returned to the riverbeds of birth after a life in the oceans to lay eggs and die and be born again and again. That was immortality to him. All salmon share the same genetic code, the parents being indistinguishable from the children.
All humans descend from one small tribe of hominids in Africa. We can be traced back to the one called Eve whose X chromosome we all share. What little or big we accomplish is added to our common human heritage. Then one day Pokémon enters our house and something changes in him.
My son finds peace. He excuses me for not having all the answers. He makes me promise to live as long and as best I can. He throws himself into the collecting of Pokémon cards and the study of their evolution. He explains to me that this one is fully evolved from that one and this one is resistant to that one, and I am released from bedtimes filled with unanswerable questions and unsatisfying answers.
I was left to my own thoughts again. All I could think of were ways to visualize the story of human heritage, to build from scratch, using all materials and colors. Maybe in that creation I could find my forever. I think totems would do the trick. I start making shapes. They more and more resemble the monsters in the Pokémon cards. Through monsters my son and I speak. How did he understand it all? He never once asked me what evolution meant.
A scientist comes on the radio and explains that humankind is entering a new phase, just as drastic as the evolution from apes to the first humans. The new humans will spread to the world as early as 2050. Is my son already of the new guard? Does he sense it? Evolution will not leave his mom or his dad in the dirt. We will evolve and be just like him. We want him to live forever.