low resistivity: a weird love letter

In the cold, concrete-floored basement, there's a shop table covered with the guts of dissected medical devices. Clipped wires and dials. Metal rods and needle-sized levers. These are the trappings of an electrical engineer. This is my father's office. 

I don't mess with any of it, not that I'd get in trouble if I did. My dad encourages curiosity. The only things I'm forbidden to touch are the bench vise and scalpel blades. "You'll lose a finger," he warns, though about which I'm not sure. He encourages curiosity and questions, which occasionally I produce. I rarely understand his answers, however. I am my father's daughter in many ways, but not in this way. He will explain concepts to me a hundred times and I will never get them. That's okay. I'll get a lot of things one day that he never will. 

Still, I like to be in it - this space. There is a sense of relaxed gravity, and intelligence. I'm only eight years old, I don't yet appreciate the sort of mind required for engineering. But there's something magical in my dad's tinkering, that I know. He brings things to life, often with visible sparks of energy. It's dangerous and delicate work, and requires all his concentration. I have to play quietly, if I'm going to be down here.

Right now I'm playing with a stack of ferrite magnets. Cool and smooth to touch, they are the color of coal and the width of dimes. I pry two from the stack and set them down on the table a few inches apart. Slowly, very slowly, I move one toward the other. The second magnet scoots away, powerless to resist the opposing polarity. Then I flip one magnet and reverse the game, seeing how close I can get the disks before they snap together in attraction. The click they make when they combine is eternally satisfying, and a sound that will stay with me forever.


I heard it tonight, in my memory, as the heat ran from your body to mine, and things I never understood made sense for the length of a lightning bolt.

Magnetism is a fact of the world we can neither force nor resist. And conductivity is how easily things pass between you and I, because of how we choose to minimize the space and the obstacles. That's all I need to know, anyway.