The Nature of a City

The nature of a city depends on the direction its people are moving. In the morning, towards. By evening, away. The wealth of a city depends on the density of this movement and its speed. There is conflicting evidence to suggest that the slow pace of traffic moving away from the center of the city at six in the afternoon, past the pharmacy at the corner into the wide industrial roads that cut through the fields of fallow over six small bridges and six thin rivers into the smaller and smaller towns until one gets to a house with the light left on in the kitchen is the best indicator of a city’s development or demise. It takes bringing something into the heart of a city, then back out into its tributaries, to raise the price of one’s possessions. This principle applies to one’s hopes and desires as it does to chickens and vegetables. There is hardly any evidence left, but years ago a train cut through the center of the island northeast to southwest, parallel to the shore. Or southwest to northeast depending on whether one was coming home for dinner, or one was going against the current, meaning going back to the city because one had left the key to a cabinet that one had been planning to open for a very long time.