A few weeks ago I made the somewhat surprising discovery that I had subscribed to Apple Music. I can’t remember doing this, though obviously I must have, so about a decade after everyone else I have been discovering the joys of streaming whatever music I want. I mostly do this while running on the treadmill. This AM I got in a few quick miles while listening to Taylor Swift. She was singing “Welcome to New York,” musing on how everybody there wanted something more, and everyone there was someone else before.
I realized it had been almost exactly six years since we bid goodbye to New York. On a June day, we loaded our family of four into our newly purchased car — something my husband hadn’t owned in 15 years and I had never owned — and drove from our apartment in midtown Manhattan out to suburban PA. I moved to NYC in 2002, at age 23, feeling much as Swift describes. I left at age 32, with more pedestrian concerns, such as where I would stick the third baby who was then on her way, and navigating the treacherous shoals of the NYC schooling situation for my then 4-year-old.
I do miss New York, though I think New York with four children would be a very different experience than New York as a young, unencumbered person. In particular, I miss singing with a really good choir. I still need to find one here. Fortunately, we didn’t move out into the total sticks. I’m 20 minutes from Philadelphia, which has great restaurants, and professional (albeit not-so-great) sports teams, and some good art museums. Philadelphia has an international airport that I think is nicer than Newark or JFK (if the flights to a few places aren’t as frequent), and a train station that beats Penn Station, and gets me on a train that gets to Penn Station in a little over an hour.
I still hate driving. I have spent far more time and money this year dealing with the joys of car ownership than I would have liked. Home ownership has its own woes. Anyone who thinks suburban living is cheaper than urban living should build line items such as “tree trimming” into their budgets. However, there are also some aspects of suburbia I have found surprisingly nice. Partly it’s that our yard is in full bloom now. Roses and lilies and hydrangeas make for quite a scene out my office window. Also, note that phrase: my office window. I have my own dedicated office in our suburban house, something that was unlikely to happen in Manhattan. In my first NYC apartment, I worked in the kitchen. In the second and third, I worked in part of my bedroom. Having my own professional space makes me feel more professional. I love being able to send the kids down to the basement, and not be on top of all their toys. I have taken the big kids into our pool (a big perk of the house that lured us out of the city) twice this week during the evening. Unless we suddenly became billionaires, we were unlikely to have our own private pool in NYC.
The school thing has been good. We moved to our community partly for the schools, and they haven’t disappointed. The kids have all attended a nice preschool that is half a mile from the house, and the local elementary school is a mile away. The other day the 7-year-old came home with a book he wrote on Pearl Harbor. The school helped him “publish” it through Book Nook press and he was so proud of it. Curiously, our district has recently been sued over what someone claimed are too high property taxes that are over-funding the schools. From our perspective, it is such a bargain vs. paying tuition for four children.
(Other interesting local news: the Bill Cosby trial is going on at our court house, where we do jury duty. But they didn’t pull a jury from around here — they brought one in from Pittsburgh.)
Anyway, I have liked suburbia more than I thought I would, and I do think it was the right move for our family. It’s only when I visit NYC sometimes that I get wistful about it. But probably I should just set it as a goal to go visit more often. And then come back here and sit on my porch and look at my flowering back yard.
In other news: Speaking of other things that have happened in Junes past, I Know How She Does It came two years ago. If you haven’t read the book yet, would you consider picking up a copy? In it, I show that women with big jobs can have far more balanced lives than the popular narrative conveys. It really is possible to have it all — and this is how it’s done.