I am privileged to love her without having ever met her.

Here is today, beginning at eight o'clock pm, Eastern Standard Time:

There is a bike ride into town because The Last Temptation of Christ is nearly overdue and I'm just too antsy telling everybody the big news but not hearing anything concrete at all. Before I leap on my bike, I light a cigar I've been saving for today and ride.

Cigars on bicycles are self-ashing. Nobody in town says a thing, but I'm not stopping to listen because every second I'm away from a phone is just far too long.

The phone rings as soon as I walk in the door, but when I pick it up it is a dead line. I crank up the music (Charles Mingus, Sigur Ros, Smog, Dirty Three, Galaxie 500 singing their sleeper hit Fourth of July) and finish the cigar out on the deck, washing it down with a beer, pretending to read The Rum Diary but really paying more attention to the sunset's reflection in my view to the west.

When it is too dark and cold out to be relaxing, I head back inside, waiting for the call that finally finally, after the whole week that I've been waiting, comes.

Gwendolyn Anne Roberts
born 5:36pm, Pacific Standard Time, July 6th, 2001
seven pounds, nine ounces, twenty inches long and as healthy as one could hope

There are fireworks going off in the nearby town of Hadley as my mom and I beam at each other across miles and miles of telephone wire.

I dare you to challenge this perfect smile. She says Gweny, my little monkey, is active, with the family mass of red hair (even though it is curly, which must be my brother-in-law's contribution).

I could contemplate the vast intricacies of the universe, the balance of life and death, but right now there is only life in my heart. There is only hope. This is my day, this is my niece, and her joy is yours.