"In the summer New York falls apart, admits its seams, its ghosts, its basic enormous unfeasibility. The cracks show; this is a place that doesn't actually work, a place that is better in theory than in practice. It's happening with the subways now; each week the disasters get worse, moving from inconvenience to real danger. Someone at a party once told me they'd been one of the people stuck in the subway in the 1977 blackout and what they remembered most vividly was how sweat condensed and eventually dripped off of the metal poles overhead like some hellish slow rainstorm. Summer is when we learn who we are when everything falls apart, when life resists being lived in a decent, efficient, organized way, when the lie that living in a city is a dignified or defensible choice begins to visibly break down.
If you live in a city long enough, especially if you start out there when you're young and stupid and throwing yourself at every choice like the canvas was large enough that no amount of paint could ruin it, then eventually every street corner becomes a place where you made out with someone, a place where you hailed a cab, a place where you didn't want to go home. I went out to Brooklyn, to the old neighborhood, for a friend's event, and at Atlantic and Flatbush every emotion I'd ever felt rushed at me in a neat line. I talk about watching friends get older, about watching the city get richer and slicker and more dishonest, but that day I felt like I was what had gentrified, and not the world around me. When I was growing up, my parents told me stories of themselves and their bad old days because they couldn't stand the potentials that they had left in their own past, because they couldn't quite live with the fact that the story had continued to close up its choices one by one, making the path clearer and narrower around them. Perhaps none of us can live with this, perhaps no one ever really gets over the tragedy of progress, perhaps none of us quite forgive ourselves for getting better."