I haven’t any culture shock yet, though 7,547.76 km lay between my last home and this one (as the crow flies); the only thing I haven’t effortlessly taken in stride is the quality of the light. Namely, the unanticipated lack of it.
I sat in a pub, plate full of lamb and vegetable mash on the table, one of my longest friendships across the table, the city outside drained of colour, all neon and reflected halogen, the shine of artificial lights on wet pavement, sky suddenly black, and felt we were a peculiar form of vampire. (No wonder this place is so thick with myths.)
England is North. Very North. More North than I had weighed in my mind. On some level, I understood London (51°30′N) to be around the latitudinal level of Edmonton (53°32′N), but I did not truly internalize what that would do to the sun. When it shines, appearing as it does around 7 am or so, it is weak and watery and near the horizon and glares in your eyes when you face South with a peculiar orange gold. The blaze of noon does not exist, even on the most crisp of blue sky autumn days, and it is full dark by 4 pm, despite the solstice being a month away.
The only other thing I speculate that I will have to consciously adapt to is the level of current that runs through the local wires. Don’t mistake me, I’ve already bought the appropriate cord for my laptop and have adapters for the rest of my electronics. It is a matter of transhumanism, purely.
The voltage here is so much higher than I find myself fighting the desire to flinch every time I need to interact with a power outlet.
For the uninitiated, the sensation electricity creates to those with implanted neodymium magnets is that of a danger reflex, which I have been finding unexpected, but seem to share with others. For example, the magnet in my hand vibrates when I reach for my electric toothbrush, sitting as it does next to an active socket, and loudly signals risk, peril, stop, don’t! And Divide told me of something similar, that he found himself reflexively curling his hand behind his back in a protective gesture when he was in the power room at ALTspace in Seattle. (For bonus points: My generation of neodymium implant is several orders of magnitude more powerful than his, too). It’s uncomfortable and profoundly provokes a very physical sense of unease. None of us flinch away from other magnets, though, even those of the opposite polarity. In my experience, only high voltage stimulates the warning. Has anyone found an explanation? Why are some of the signals interpreted as dangerous, while some are not? I haven’t reached out to others about it yet.
While the incision has been mending very nicely, I remain inquisitive about the process as my body continues to adapt and naturalize the embedded magnet. It doesn’t appear to be rejecting, the area isn’t sore, and it’s unlikely it will scar, but there is one last thing I’m finding very curious. My magnet has moved a significant distance since it was implanted. It is not in the tip of my finger anymore, but halfway down the first joint, an entire centimeter from where it had been placed.
It’s conceivable this happened when I foolishly caught the handle of a falling basket full of groceries with that finger a few weeks ago, back in Canada. (Other stupid things I have caught from the air without thinking: knives, scissors, sewing needles, a red hot piece of nearly molten metal, broken glass, a wild mouse. I am not a clever ninja.) The pain of it, though not sharp, brought me literally to my knees. At the time, I chalked it up to the freshness of the surgery, but presumably the impact shoved the magnet underneath the fat pad, along the surface of the muscles of my finger, to where it is today.
I can’t think of why else it would have migrated. The soft impacts of typing, though daily, are mostly absorbed by my long fingernails and I’ve never heard of anyone else having their magnet move, except when the earlier generation (and flatter) ones would flip or were rejected from the body and migrated to the surface like a metal splinter. The technology is relatively recent, (my friend Todd was the first to be implanted in 2004), and still very gray-market/DIY, so I don’t know if there’s an exact science to the fingertip placement yet, which creates the question: Should I move it back or leave it?
Either way, whether this is an ordinary thing for an implanted object to do in a finger or if the movement is due to banging it, I’m paying more attention to it than I otherwise would have, not because I’m worried, but because I don’t want reason to be. And, seriously, the voltage here. Sheesh.