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  • Writer's pictureAshley Christine

From Woodland Fairy to Mathematician

I was born in New Jersey and spent my younger childhood living in various subsidiary shit holes across the northeast. I only knew city life. I didn't know there were so many stars in the sky, or that some people had clean water. We were poor. I fucking hated it.

Then 9/11 happened.

My parents sat my two sisters and me down and told us that we were moving to the woods. That the city was a bad idea. They were doomsday prophets now.

By the end of the spring, we had moved to the White Mountain National Forest in northern New Hampshire. I spent my teenage years on a dead-end dirt road in the middle of nowhere. My parents wanted us to learn how to survive. We had a well, solar panels, and chickens that never shut the fuck up.

It was awesome.

Growing up in the forest is like living inside of a giant organism. At first, everything scares the shit out of you. I hated walking to my friend's house because I had to cut through the woods in the pitch black, and everything made weird noises. But eventually you learn to live with it, and become sensitive to the things that you never noticed before.

Like the direction of the wind.

Or the smell of chicken shit.

It was a difficult life, especially on my parents. The chores were never-ending and physically draining. I worked on the mountain in the winters, and followed my dad on his electrical jobs in the summers. Half the time I didn't know what I was doing, but someone was always there to teach me.

Around my junior year of high school, I started to notice that something wasn't right. I could feel it in this quiet kind of way. The seasons weren't behaving the way they used to. Normally, the winters were brutally cold, around -20F for weeks. Cars wouldn't start, the air choked you, and our eyelashes would freeze on the walk to school. You know, uphill both ways blah blah blah. The snow came in late October, and it wouldn't leave until April. But that year in January we saw grass.


By the time summer came, there were mosquitos and ticks fucking everywhere. We'd never had ticks before. Now they were killing the wildlife and sucking the moose dry. Literally. Google pictures of it, it's out of a Lovecraft nightmare.

The forest was dying. It was slow and hidden, but it was dying.

I had little faith in humanity's ability to fix the planet. Which meant that our only other alternative was to leave. Traditional means of travel through space would never work since everything was too far away. Even at light speed, it could take 100,000 years to reach a habitable planet. Our only option was to build an Einstein-Rosen Bridge; more commonly known as a wormhole.

Wormholes don't occur naturally. They would have to be man-made. I went to school for mathematics because I knew that without the math, building a doorway as absurdly mythical as a wormhole would take mountains of knowledge that we didn't have. I wanted to be a part of the movement that fixed the gaps in topological mathematics that, at those higher levels, doesn't check.

In the first week of graduate school I had a crisis of conscious. Did we deserve to be saved? Were we better off dying on Earth instead of spreading across the cosmos like a virus, infecting every habitable planet until we sucked it dry? Like the fucking ticks in my hometown.

I didn't know. I still don't.


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