What does Tom mean when he says this?
“I descended the steps of this fire escape… attempting to find in motion what was lost in space … The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly colored but torn away from the branches."
One of the main struggles that Tom faces is his belief that he could actually accomplish things and have a brighter future than his current situation but he feels his responsibility to his family is holding him down. So as he decides to finally leave the family, he walks away but in some ways even then he cannot escape them, he cannot escape their effects and it prevents him from finding what he was looking for. In some ways all the possibility and the excitement he looked forward to just sweeps around him, the brightness and color flashing past, but he is unable to be a part of it and it is only fleeting just as the leaves will quickly dry and turn brown once torn from their branches.