With our rent inevitably on the rise next summer, Adam and I have been contemplating our next move. We both really love Brooklyn and could see staying here a couple more years. However both of us are tempted by the thought of moving out of the city to some cute smaller town nearby – maybe up the Hudson or in NJ? I find the idea to be simultaneously exciting, soothing and anxiety-producing. It’s a big change… and we are in the process of a big change already (baby anyone?). Am I ready for more? Plus, now it’s not just the two of us. Wherever we decide to live is where Theo is going to grow up (at least for a little while). So is he going to be a country mouse or a city mouse?
To be honest, I have never exactly pictured myself having a city kid. I grew up in a small Norman Rockwellish suburban town about forty-five minutes outside of Boston. It’s the kind of town with a rotary in the center, a quaint Main Street downtown and a high school, where you graduate with the same 150 kids you went to first grade with. Now obviously, when I was a teenager I couldn’t wait to leave my little town of Westborough. I was ready to experience a new place. I couldn’t wait to throw myself in with thousands of people I’d never met (hence, my venturing off to a humungous midwestern Big Ten university). But now that I’m all grown up (??), I genuinely appreciate my small-town upbringing. Yes, I was totally sheltered – but is it so bad to be sheltered when you’re growing up?
As a child, I’d play outside in the yard with my friends (without adult supervision!). I would ride my bike around the neighborhood by myself… it was safe! In middle school we’d walk around downtown or get dropped off at the movies (in a shopping center) or at the mall. What do city kids do? Where would we teach Theo how to ride a bike? Where would he hang out with his friends?
Then there’s driving. Ahhhhh…. driving. As a sixteen year-old, getting my license was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me! Driving was freedom, escape, possibility, responsibility. Most of the city kids I know don’t know how to drive! They don’t learn! And who would want to? Driving in the city sucks compared to cruising along the picturesque, hilly, tree-lined country roads I grew up with. Besides, my dad taught me how to drive in a big empty parking lot by our house. There are no parking lots in the city! Where do city kids even learn how to drive if they want to?
So I guess at this point in my life, I am leaning more country mouse. After eleven years in the city, I am beginning to crave a more quiet, simple, nature-filled, small-community lifestyle. There is something about being outside of the city that fills me. The air is different. There are stars! There is space to breathe. On weekends lately, I keep feeling this urge to get into the car and escape – to be able to go for a nice drive – to be amongst the trees and grass – to slow down – to be quiet. Life outside of the city just seems to be a little easier. This makes me feel like I might be ready to make the move. But I do have this little nagging fear that maybe I’ll be bored to death if I don’t have everything at my fingertips like I do here. Now that I have the city under my skin… will I be happy when I leave, or will I feel isolated?
I guess it all comes down to finding the right community. In my head, I picture a funky, artsy town – filled with city people who have tired of the city lifestyle just like me. There is still culture and diversity. There are still great restaurants (at least a few – who needs thousands?) and markets where I can get natural and organic foods. There is a movie theater where we can see independent films. There are public schools that are good so we won’t have to pay a college-like tuition starting from Kindergarten (how is this even possible?? I don’t know). We could have a house – with a yard. I could drive to the grocery store – or to a mall when I need one (sometimes you just need a mall!!) I could go for a drive for fun, without having to get on the BQE or the FDR. We could take Theo for a hike or we could go kayaking. We could belong to a pool club. In a dream world, we could even get to the city within an hour – so everything is still at my fingertips… (just longer fingers). This sounds nice. I think I could do this. I think I’d be happy.
So I’m starting to research… so far I’ve been told to check out Dobbs Ferry, NY, Nyack, NY, Maplewood, NJ… any other suggestions? I’m all ears.