19 May 2014

The Universe of Us

Scientists say the human body is home to some 100 trillion microbes, which make up what they call a microbiome; we are a universe to innumerable tiny living things that do things these scientists are only beginning to understand.

Families, they say, share a microbiome, and so do couples. When you share a home, meals, a bed, and occasional bodily fluids, there's bound to be some intergalactic multiculturalism, or whatever the word is. The more varied your microbiome, the better — plus points if you own a dog.

This is the reason, I guess, that my immune system freaks out whenever I go home; my germs don't think it's home anymore.

With you gone for the last two weeks, I fancy that the problems I'm having with my gut are my microbiome missing its other half. This spate of gastrointestinal troubles is because the balance of germs we've built up over the past couple of years is suddenly out of whack; the world of 200 trillion creatures has suddenly been ripped in two. Organism 75GXB in my large intestine is missing his wife and kids Organisms 82FCE and 79AAA to 79ZZZ, currently on vacation in my favorite part of your belly.

This isn't just gas, I tell myself. I'm half a universe waiting for you to come back.

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