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When You Were Born

Electricity to the north, darkness to the south, the future out there somewhere.


I have a 1-week-old son and a dog with diarrhea and I have mainly been sitting around a nice peaceful place in the Village dealing with feces by candlelight. The Empire State Building looms to the north like the brilliant gate to electric heaven; someone’s penthouse is offering a single smug pod of light high in the southern sky; NYU buildings are annoyingly bright and cozy; people near them are demonstrating a device that uses fire to charge your phone and make tea simultaneously; Zadie Smith is dressed as a witch and taking a little girl somewhere for Halloween; someone offered me $100 for my flashlight; the downtown callers-in to WNYC seem increasingly miffed about life uptown sounding totally normal; we’re surrounded by genuine hardcore devastation and death that we don’t have enough cell service or radio batteries to fully keep up with; I can’t be the only one fantasizing about a daisy-chain of extension cords and power strips from midtown to the sea; and you can tell when our son’s really waking up because he’ll raise one fist in the air, as if in solidarity with some Newborn Liberation Front. Which I suppose is exactly the kind of well-rehearsed patina-of-romance story he’ll have to hear again and again every time the power goes out for the next eighteen years.

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