[...\ The places in which your life takes place, the places you love so radically, belong to wealthy corporations, to a tiny handful of families with unthinkably old money, to the Sacklers and their industry of death, to the Catholic Church, to NYU, to Google, to Donald Trump. We are borrowing our lives from people who disdain those lives, to whom we are at absolute best an inconvenience. Each inch of sidewalk, each welcoming shadow of a grand building, the air itself as it softens around you and turns siren-like and loving in spring, all of these are possessions; someone owns them, but it isn’t you.
To live in a city is to carve a very small story out of someone else’s much larger one, burrowing our skinless and unimportant daily events, our losses, our triumphs, our jokes and heartbreaks and errands and arguments, cancelled plans and chance reunions, forgivenesses and grudges, bargains and failures, into someone else’s massive narrative of wealth. One comfort is that this is the way it has always been, the skyscrapers versus the ground. This paradox of an essentially rented life may actually be the thing that gives a city meaning, but it is also the thing against which the city struggles. How possible is it to live in the quiet story, and how long until those lives become largely untenable, until the loud story is all that is left?