“Where are you based now?” It’s become the conversation-starter, especially among those New Yorkers who ran for the hills in March and still haven’t come home. More than a few have returned, fortunately, either because of school re-starting or offices beginning to reopen or summer rentals ending. The streets are more alive now than they were in the spring, thanks to outdoor dining, and now that indoor dining has gotten the green light, there’s another hum of hope. But as the city enters autumn, it feels a bit melancholic.

No doubt, New York will come back. It has always been the place to be. A $5 coffee was well worth the price if outside the coffee shop you bumped into an Egyptian-Italian banker who invests in insect farming. Five-dollar coffee bought you information about a topic that a moment ago you didn’t even know existed. A trip to the overpriced Union Market came with a good chance of bumping into an artist, getting an invite to a painting studio in Bushwick, and, later, a sex party in Chinatown. But people left and took that spontaneity with them. Those who want to meet Egyptian-Italian socialites or wayward artists have to travel to find them.