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Looking out the window of my new office, you can see my old office. This sounds symmetric, but my old office had no windows. The new windows don't open, so there's still something to dream about, but they're eight floors up, pointed west along the curves that the commuter rail and route 2 follow out of Cambridge and over the hills into Lexington and Concord. Toy trains hum past, below, and in between them I can watch people furtively scurry across the tracks through surreptitious holes in the fences. On the other side of the tracks, cranes are either building or destroying something, and I'm never sure which. Later in the day the sun arcs down from over the building itself and glows in at me. On the good days, when I can accept that my company is paying me to learn, without obsessing too much on the lack of obvious ways in which they seem prepared to help me do anything with what I learn, this is a pleasant scenario.  

The old office was across the street from a pond, around which loops the paved path on which I'd been doing most of my running. The new office is just around the corner from a paved bikepath that runs eastward into Cambridge or westward into Arlington. The pond loop had the logistical virtue of being uninterrupted, but the section of the bikepath I run has only one intersection that requires waiting for traffic. The pond loop runs through trees, around water. The bikepath runs through neighborhoods.  

The new office is a short walk from a subway station. My house is a short walk from another station on the same line. It was possible to reach the old office via public transportation, too, but not expediently, so for nine years I mostly drove to work. Now I ride the train. This is cheaper for me, since the company pays for passes if you waive parking, which I assume is also cheaper for them. I hope it's cheaper for society, too, although it's a government-run subway system, so it's hard to guess. My car is a slightly better music-listening environment in acoustic terms, but on the train I can also read. Some kinds of routine daytime errands were easier to run with a car, but several are a great deal easier without having to park one. Mostly it's less stressful. From inside a car, the roads are an obstacle course and their occupants an anonymous enemy. From outside, in it, the city is a place filled with people.  

So from driving to and from a windowless room, and running in woods, I have switched to walking and riding the train to a watchpost, and running past homes and schools. My days are not necessarily more beautiful, and certainly no more natural, but they are clearly more humane. I am more a part of the city I live in. And although I'm not sure it's the place I should be living in, if it makes questionable sense to live here it makes no sense to live here and not be here.
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