Nine Good Reasons Why We Live in This Place This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

before the american revolution, this was queen street; they changed the name
when they won. but there hasn’t been a patriot in this family
for the past four generations, and before that, we were in poland. or china.

i think i made up this memory but i remember a kid
calling me a chink in the second or third grade. and i didn’t say anything,
didn’t even tell him that the chink was only half of me,
that i was white underneath this yellow armor, like the dog piss
in the snow. after that, i practiced walking with my eyes closed for as long as
i could, but i never managed to be blind for more than half a block. and then i
was wondering: how could the chinks live like this all the time if i couldn’t
even make it down liberty street?

the apartment is 5400 sq ft and the truth is that four people don’t need
that much room, not even if the son is 6’1” and 190 lbs
and the daughter is coughing, contagious.

there is so much room that if i smoke a joint in the back of
my brother’s old bedroom and crack one of the double-paned windows,
my parents won’t smell a thing when they come home. but i’m not
that kid. and when they do come home
i tell them what i’ve done, what my brother never would have dreamed of.

we had to move out for a few years because a couple tall buildings
across the street collapsed, sending dust and glass everywhere. i don’t remember
what the place looked like before then, only that when we finally
moved back in, my bedroom was decorated in greens and blues, like a skyscraper
under the sea. a shipwreck
and a four-year-old’s debris.

my parents spend thousands hanging the walls with pictures of blurry books,
people we don’t know, places we’ve never been to, and i don’t ask why there are no
photos of my father’s mother, whose death began the year i was born.
the truth is that i know why they do this.
cancer runs in my family like a web of fault lines and my father’s mother
did not die of cancer.

there are three sixes in our telephone number.
we live on the sixth floor and our zip code ends in a six. when we were young
my brother nicknamed me lucifer simply because it sounded like lucy,
neither of us knew what it meant, my father stays up all night
reading the news on the computer and only when the morning star rises
does he finally turn off the light and go to bed.

the fruit of freedom is important, but not more so than the thing itself.
i may give up my freedom when i turn eighteen, but until then, here i must remain.

i like being rich almost as much as i like pretending not to be. you’ll find
all seven cardinal sins if you look in my back pocket, but you’ve got to understand:
we aren’t evil people. we’re just taking evil’s place.
none of our ancestors fought in the revolution that gave our home its name
and if things go like they’re supposed to, none of us will be here when the next one rises
to burn the street clean.

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