My return to the West, however, has been a shock to say the least, because I remember this desert megalopolis being so different. When I was last here, everything was enlivened with quickening elixir of easy credit. Strip malls sprouted overnight. Entire housing developments appeared within the span of a week. People were drunk on the belief that their characterless, indifferently constructed houses were ATMs with ever increasing balances. It was a bad way to conduct one’s life, to be sure.