Nicholas Furness

Software Engineer and East Village Policeman in New York

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I was born far too long ago in a country that no longer exists and carry an accent that is as received as it is pronounced.

Predictably, people ask where I'm from. It's a peculiarity of this country that the inquisitive are too polite to hazard a guess. Perhaps they've made the mistake before of suggesting to a Scotsman that he may be English. The backlash from that would be enough to knock the confidence of anyone, except perhaps a Scotsman.

And so my answer of "I was born in Yugoslavia but I grew up in England" has been honed over the years to ease into the rest of the conversation as kindly as possible. Patting themselves on the back for picking up that I wasn't entirely English, people set free their curiosity to discover that I came to live in Denver in 1996 (by way of Australia) where I met my wife before following her to New York in November 2001, marrying her a year later in Slovenia (a country which does still exist), and that I help people make maps that help improve the world.

Of late, most of these conversations take place at the dog run. You see, without any particular interest in cultivating and growing our own children, we adopted a dog, which has proven to be more life-changing than I had anticipated. I've primarily worked from home since I moved to New York, and so I had never got a real sense of living in a neighbourhood: I never walked through one to work and if I went out it was to go and work elsewhere. But a dog forces you outside with nothing better to do than just walk, and be, and in my case notice at last that the East Village truly is a village. It feels like home to me now. I'm greeted in the street not with offers of narcotics in exchange for cash, but with smiles and recognition. It is truly rewarding.

Lastly, my middle name is Igor.