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Tuesday January 16, 2001, 03:07

"Thanks for staying up with me tonight," he said.

He is a nameless, faceless voice in my apartment that comes out of a little radio that I have not yet fully mastered. Truth be told, it's not even my apartment, per se, but saying "the apartment in which I am staying" for too long leaves me with a certain sense of drifting that I would really rather avoid.

So what is it that makes me turn on the radio in lieu of any of the compact discs that I have in my collection? Why is it that I accept the occasional interruptions from him (that nameless - to me - faceless individual) to tell me that I am currently listening to WNYC and that they will be broadcasting music until five a.m.? Why do I put up with the hiss of poor reception on tinny speakers?

The walk home, down busy streets (still, at two in the morning), made me feel amazingly small. This, I said to myself, is why I moved back. The constant movement. The fact that I can look across the street at the apartment on the fourth floor, the one with the light still on with the woman pacing back and forth talking on the phone. That I hear a girl's scream on the sidewalk, her shoes crashing heavily on the concrete. I moved back for, as they say, the city that never sleeps.

And on my way home, mind slightly clouded from the (oh I never drink) drink that I had nursed for the previous hour, I had three interactions with three different people. The first was the homeless man who wanted a quarter. Or a cigarette. And didn't he remember me from Fifth Avenue? ("No man, must have been someone else.") The following two were mere eye dances, a brief glance, a lock in that moment when you are close enough to reach out and grab them, but don't, for the pressure of societal constraints, and you walk on by. But that's what those two were. So, three people. And a lot of cars passing by.

And this city is big. I mean really big. And it is so easy to be so alone in all this bigness.

So I turn on the radio. In my apartment that anyone could look into if they wanted, and see me typing by the light of the single sixty watt light bulb, with the red glow of a fluorescent bulb by the front door (an installation, I believe), I listen to the radio and know that there is someone out there who is also awake right now, who is listening to the same thing that I am, right now.

Makes the city a little less big.1



1. But not too much. That'd be no fun.

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