August 8, 2014 by GMvBM
I’ve heard of a land far far away where children can roam free in their own back yards. Places where jogging strollers and scooters don’t live in bedrooms, but garages. A land where the living room, play room, dining room and TV room are not one and the same. In this unknown terrain, car seats are kept in cars, not in closets because people not only own cars, but can park them in their own garage for free! In this land, washers and dryers are not run by coins, storage units are not rented and playgrounds can be reached without an elevator ride. This land is called The Suburbs and, after 22 years of a mortgage-free, car-less urban existence, I will be moving to a suburb of my own in just a few weeks.
I don’t know what life will be like without someone living in an apartment below and above me. When I’m in a house, I feel exposed to the world instead of safely ensconced behind the large front door which hides its occupants’ locations. Although I am tired of dealing with the logistics required to haul kids and gear all over the city by foot, I fear becoming overly-dependent on a car. My current neighborhood is pretty quiet, but I don’t know how I will cope living in a house without helicopters whirring by, cruise boats honking and party boats blasting their music. The sounds of waves crashing and people talking outside my window will certainly not follow me to the ‘burbs unless the river floods or people are sitting on my porch.
Despite the reputation cities have of being cold and unfriendly, I know most of the dozen neighbors on my floor, just as I did when I lived in Manhattan. My kids love our doormen, know our mailman by name and we can’t leave the house without running into someone we know. The fruit vendor down the street knows what we like and I know every pharmacist at the drug store as well as the long-standing cashiers at the grocery store.
How long will it take for those connections to be made in my new town? How long will it take for me to know where to go and how to get around? How long will it take me to know which place has a family-friendly happy hour? More importantly, how long will it take until I have friends to invite to a happy hour? The task seems daunting.
At times, as I stare at the boxes I’ve filled and stacked in the corner, I feel as if I’ve sold out. I love living in cities and, with my penchant for packed schedules and diverse friends, I am a true city person. While my twin sister loves her car, I love not having one. I had vowed to keep my kids in public school here for as long as possible, hoping to be an agent for change in our community. I have helped others mold and shape our school board and elect our mayor. I have learned to commute efficiently on foot, train or light-rail and can now–only recently–give driving directions. Yet, I’m leaving.
I wonder if I am taking the easy route by carting my things and my children to a place where there are no wait-lists for a free, good education. Where I can walk around town or hop in the car without carrying car seats to the nearest zipcar. Where economic disparities are not as wide as they are here.
Despite all this, I know we are making the best decision we can for our family. My children will love having a yard and my husband can’t wait to have more that two bedrooms worth of space. I wonder what will it be like for the four of us to be scattered around the house, together, but alone.
In a few weeks, we’ll pack up our boxes, clean out our place and head west for our new beginning in the ‘burbs. Wish me well and, more importantly, recommend happy hour locations because I will certainly need a few drinks and new friends to have them with.
– Patricia, GoodMomvsBadMom.com