Marsupial Mammals

In addition to being (clearly) a placental mammal, I may have a latent marsupial gene—if not in actual fact, then certainly in sensibility. I carried all three of my children well after their overdue gestations; we strained the weight limit of the front pack. We called one of our sons a koala—he didn’t want to let go of constant holding and being held until he was nearly ready to move on from a car seat, and as long as the strength of my arms and back held up, I was happy with that arrangement. Fast forward to three years ago: My husband had a sudden, unexpected work assignment in Brisbane, Australia; he flew 8,217 miles away from me, and I joined him a month later. Within hours of my arrival, we were exploring a wildlife sanctuary, and I was feeding a kangaroo approved snacks and—with ranger guidance, for a short moment only—cuddling an actual koala, not a human boy version of one. Falling asleep that night against the potential jet lag (I never did suffer from it, either traveling there or returning home two months later), on another continent where the Pacific Ocean rims the east coast (!!!), with my strong man curled around me for the first time in weeks, I marveled at the ways in which we can be enfolded by each other, by nature, by place.