Sometimes the city holds its breath.

I grew up in a little big city. Monaco is 30,000 people crammed quite comfortably into one square mile, mostly by building vertically and occasionally by reclaiming land on the sea. There's a rhythm to cities like that, where people overlap people until they fill every silence. The day is traffic, voices raised, things being dropped, and the night? Water rushing through pipes, far-off sirens, the occasional drunken argument or someone discovering they've got the entire street to themselves and gunning it. It's like that in Monaco, New York, Geneva, and any other city I've lived in or visited. The city snores, and you either hate it or look at it fondly when it wakes you.

Sometimes it stops mid-breath and it's just you and a glowing screen, the hum of electricity, and maybe the sound of typing keys. I heard it happen for the first time in the smaller apartment we moved to when my mom got divorced. I'd stayed up to read and the city paused, and suddenly it was like the whole city was mine. Those moments were always holy to me. They're probably how I wound up nocturnal.

It's 11:50 p.m. and Geneva just held its breath. Archive's "Collapse/Collide" is playing on my computer, and I'm the only person alive. It's just a pause - in a second, a bar door will open and someone will stumble back to their apartment. A car door will shut. Glass will settle in a dumpster, and the city will roll over and start breathing again. Maybe it's dreaming.

I'm home.


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