What my self-appointed white knights had failed to understand is that, although I had bought the Granite Building to live in it, that was by no means the only reason. In New York, Paris, Milan, I was a mere spectator, standing by and looking on while the landscape in which I lived was transformed, for better and for worse, by billionaires and corporations. But in Pittsburgh, I can call on my experience of other cities and make something happen.

Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat before dawn and think about what my life will be like if I lose my shirt. I picture myself in some hovel, freezing in the winter, with nothing to my name but a few sticks of furniture donated by the handful of friends I will still have left (I know who you are). But alive, nonetheless, and able to read and write and go for walks along the river and do many of the other things that I enjoy. There are worse fates, I remind myself. And worse ways to lose your shirt.

Holly Brubach has written for The New Yorker and The New York Times .


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