The first step on my career ladder: a government job in Washington D.C. I found an apartment on the thirtieth floor of a high-rise and rented a few pieces of furniture. A series of underground passages led from the garage to the station; you could eat, shop, jog, and ride to work without ever seeing daylight. All around were similar buildings—hotels, convention centers, more apartments. From the balcony I watched buses disgorging their loads amid clouds of exhaust. My plants agonized in the poisoned air.