Last week I called my mother who lives 14,198 kilometers away (or .0473 light seconds) in the far-off wintry latitudes of the New York State Thruway. It was Christmas morning there, and the snow fell gently upon the quiet world outside.
Dear mum sat by the fireplace, quietly darning her work sock in the warm glow of the Yule log. The light on her face seemed to brighten when she heard the telephone ring. She had a premonition that her son would be on the line.
My sister was there with my brother in-law and their three children, and when my mother told them it was me, they all gathered around the hearth with fresh cups of hot cocoa in their hands.
“Oh, son,” my mother said. “It is fitting for you to call us on this, the most family-oriented-holiday-greeting-card-friendly holiday known to humanity. We have not heard from you these many months and there’s so much we desire to learn about your new country. It’s hard even to know where to begin. Tell us, what medium-budget science fiction television series does the Auckland skyline most evoke in your imagination?”
I couldn’t believe the question because that was exactly the thing that had been weighing on my mind, and the reason for my call. I just had to tell my mother, after being out of touch for so long, that ever since the first time I saw the Auckland cityscape, I’d been thinking, “Any respectable low- to medium-budget science fiction television series from Canada would be proud to use Auckland as the model for its establishing exterior shots of extraterrestrial locales.”
A tear rolled down my cheek that Christmas morning and I began to choke up so much, it was hard for me to get the words out that my mother so longed to hear.
“Auckland,” I whispered. “Auckland reminds me of Atlantis from the television series Stargate Atlantis.”
Soon that part of the conversation ended and it was my mother’s turn to tell me what was going on in her life, so I hung up as quickly as I could. But then I felt bad. It seemed after some reflection that Auckland didn’t really look that much like Atlantis from Stargate Atlantis. Then I thought, so what? With a little computer magic, Auckland could certainly be the grand capital city of some alien planet. Or at least a sprawling truck stop where a guy could grab a steak, down some amphetamines and enjoy the services of a prostitute, except in outer space.
I thought, hey, I’m unemployed. Why don’t I see what Auckland would look like after a little tender loving care from my computer, just like they’d do for a medium-budget science fiction television series for Canadians. After developing a graphic algorithm and plugging in the data, the computer rendered this:
Wait until the Canadians see that.