In the Grand Canyon there is a geologic gap called the Great Unconformity. No fossils exist below this schism. Her timeline has such an unconformity: before age twenty-one, anything that took up physical space and could in theory become a fossil—lost as if by fire. Except the items she chanced to give away beforehand. Those returned to her like lost pet dogs on a hundred-mile pilgrimage.
One such item was a stuffed bear, a present she gave her boyfriend on Valentines Day, 1984. When after three years they broke up, he kept the bear. When he left for culinary school in New York, the bear did too. Then to Ohio where the boyfriend scored a “real” job, the bear came. In an apartment whose only furniture was a mattress, the bear reclined like a king. Other furniture appeared. First a TV on a milk crate, then a card table and chairs. A phone. Condiments in the refrigerator.
Seven years after she gave that bear, they met again. The boy, the girl, the bear. The man, the woman, the bear. It looked as new as the day she gave it.
It would still look new today, but she caved into their son’s adorable chubby fingers reaching, his wide, loving eyes wanting nothing more than to squeeze that royal softness to his chest. The baby boy gummed the black felt right off the bear’s nose as he lay with it in his crib, then in his bed. One day, she noticed her son hadn’t touched the bear for a while, had moved on to other soft things. She rescued the nameless bear, used sharpie to fill in its nose, set it on her headboard.