I’m fond of saying that I did not move away from New York, I broke up with it. And for several years afterward, when I would return, it knew I was there. There was a bitterness about it that exes can have – as if it were saying to me, “See, I’m getting along just fine without you. I don’t need you. Look at how I have barely noticed you’ve been gone.”

But this time, I found it had changed. It had left behind its wanton ways, and its rough edges had softened a bit. The city had turned to creature comforts; it had become more careful, more kind; it seemed almost to nurture its brood, somehow. As if it had settled down, enjoying the very lifestyle it has always eschewed. Something I read recently put into words this feeling:

[T]he streets the mayor and his friends have turned into faux piazzas… [are] an insult to those of us whose notion of New York City still includes dark corners and hard surfaces. These changes, applied with the superficiality of decals or appliqué, signify a new city, a lowercase city, where blocks are crowded with gelato and yogurt shops, traditional Neapolitan pizza restaurants and cupcake bakeries, where we can all pretend life is beautiful all the time.

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