To say that I needed the last three weeks to happen at exactly this time and in exactly this way would be a wild understatement. I dig so far into myself during the summer that by the end I can't see anything clearly. I know it's coming and I know why it's happening but that doesn't make it easier, or go any faster. I can't look past it or reach through it: all I can do is wait. My only coping mechanism is to burrow all the way in, which means I lose all perspective along with my sense of humor, and when it finally passes—when that first clean blast of air hits on that first cool morning—it honestly is like a 70-pound weight lifting off my shoulders. So to finally share these long good days with dear good friends makes up for months of holding my breath and praying. And to spend this weekend at the New Yorker Festival listening to smart interviews and thoughtful conversations—followed by meandering walks up gray city streets marked by an already passing season—was for me not only invigorating but truly, madly, deeply essential.