My dad gets kidney stones, like, all the time. Once when I was a kid he called me in the kitchen and asked me to hold out my hand, then poured what looked like a jet black nerd candy out of a dixie cup and into my palm. A 4 mm kidney stone that had been in his body the hour before. He was almost proud to show me, and once I realized what I was holding I squealed, threw the thing in the air and ran outside.

I called him this morning to say hello, and he answered the phone sounding stuffed up and half-asleep. “Hello, dad?” “Yeah.” “How are you, how was your night last night?” “Oh, I’d be fine. If Seattle didn’t hate me.”

He went on to tell me about how since he’s moved here a year ago only bad things have happened to his body. His allergies are worse. He pees a lot more than he used to. He has a deviated septum. And now he has another kidney stone.

He moved to Seattle from Indiana, the land of the deep fried fill-in-the-blank, the chili cheese dog, and the Chinese buffet. Everybody eats well here, and the truth is he eats better now than ever. But the city is an easy scapegoat for any ailment–the perfect answer for why we’re lonely, or broke, or allergic.

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