New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.

Was happiness (which was perhaps achieved not by getting what you wanted, but rather, by obtaining what you didn’t know you wished for until it was in hand) a hologram that would continually change appearance with the slightest shift of perspective? Or maybe happiness by definition was a temporary state of being recognizable only in hindsight. It was impossible to catch what always managed to be overrun and end up in the rear view mirror.

I wanted solitude, but a treasure like that didn’t exist in the city. I only found silence in Central Park, still littered with people of course, but the only place that held moments of calm. I breathed in that wonderful silence as my pace finally slowed, and nature delighted my senses.

Not even a cat was out. The rain surged down with a steady drone. It meant to harm New York and everyone there. The gutters could not contain it. Long ago they had despaired of the job and surrendered. But the rain paid no attention to them… New York people never lived in houses or even in burrows. They inhabited cells in stone cliffs. They timed the cooking of their eggs by the nearest traffic light. If the light went wrong, so did the eggs…

But Pierre had been born with a shrewdness that made him early aware that a failure to believe that human events were ordered by a higher power was regarded by many in the highest positions as obnoxious and even sinful, and as nothing was to be gained by exciting such hostility, it was better to give a silent or even smiling assent to the fatuous idealism to which, particularly in youth, one was so relentlessly exposed.

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