I really should have paid more attention in Mr. Brannon’s Biology class. But those darn cloth curtains kept distracting me. Classrooms now-a days don’t even have curtains, they have blinds. Not so when I went to school…we had cloth curtains that would have made Maria Von Trapp sing Doe Re Mi Fa So La Ti Doe as visions of vibrant print lederhosen danced in her head. Dissecting frogs. No recall. Flora and Fauna. Nada.
I find it very strange however, that the one thing I do remember about my freshman year science class was the section on DNA. All things to all life. We even made a DNA double helix chain from yellow and red colored matchsticks pressed between clear contact paper that I kept until after I was married with children. And yes, I can recall the names of the men who discovered DNA, but that’s only because there was a certain long haired, bad boy, heartthrob in my co-ed PE class who had the last name of Crick as well. (FYI…every Freshman girl got that answer right on the final exam.)
Call it what you will, but my fascination with DNA has always kept me on the edge of a very brainiac slippery slope where I could easily tumble into the science-nerd abyss at a nanosecond’s notice. Ah, who am I trying to kid, it’s too late. Three weeks ago Zak agreed to submit a DNA sample to the 23andme labs to map his ancestry. I’ve never pushed this with him because he never seemed interested. After watching “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Finding your Roots” his interest was piqued. So three weeks ago he spit into a vial and we shipped his DNA to a lab in California. Two days ago the results were sent to us. Two days ago I slipped, no, I willingly plunged down that brainiac slope…and I am blissfully cruising through the science nerd abyss with all I am learning about Zak and his DNA.
Of course much of what I am learning is to be shared only among family, but on a grander scale I can safely answer one question almost everyone who knows Zak asks. Where does he get his insane artistic skills? It was discovered through his sample that he shares his DNA with an extremely rare haplogroup that is associated with the Malay population. Historically they are an artistic people as they are the same haplogroup detected in the artists graves associated with the creation of the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian, China.
What is more fascinating than anything though is with this simple DNA test Zak took three weeks ago he has gone from a history we had to accept started on the day he was born to a history that is deeply entrenched in a rich East Asian culture. More so, we have communicated with people with like DNA who have equally fascinating stories to why they have submitted samples of their own DNA.
Deoxyribonucleic acid! I knew it was awesome thirty years ago, but now, WOW!! Because of labs like 23andme, DNA is reuniting victims of the Holocaust with descendants thought lost 70 years ago. DNA is allowing political refugees to try to locate relatives separated at the height of the mass genocide under the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. DNA is giving a young man abandoned in Beijing, with no known history…a history. The stories of families reuniting because of DNA goes on, and on, and on…just like Watson and Crick’s double helix.
All Things to All Life…it truly does makes sense to me now.