Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brooklyn versus the Valley

First of all, I want to apologize for being a bit repetitive in my last couple of posts. I guess that's the price I pay of posting more frequently: I really don't have all that much to say.

Also, a friend I love dearly wrote recently to say I should stop bashing Brooklyn. I am curious about this because I don't feel dark about Brooklyn; I adore it, I truly do, and will defend it to the end. So this is an explanatory post that I've been meaning to write for some time now.

I moved because I was just done. I had had enough. Last summer was unbearable, the heat, the brown-outs, the black-outs that didn't get any press because the Queens thing was so much more horrible. But I also to move because of the Ratner arena, the traffic, carrying my groceries home from the coop, the way the DOE and the city and the state did to us and stripped our community of most of its autonomy. I was done.

Maybe we could have made it work, if we had been better about getting two or three week vacations, rather than one at a time, or if we had forked over the dough for a summer place to escape to. Maybe if I had grown up in New York I would have felt lifelong loyalty, not just 18 years worth. But it all seemed insurmountable. It felt like the time was right, and I am still glad we moved.

I think it's that the change of lifestyle here is so striking. For instance, I can't believe this whole closing, how casual it is. To be sure, it's casual even for the brokers. It's hard not to notice differences -- there are tons of them! -- some good, some bad, some just, well, different. The difference between living in an apartment, albeit a big one, versus living in a house. Driving everywhere. No food coop. Not a drop-off school, rather, a school-bus school. Not good necessarily, not bad, just different. I like driving home when it's raining, rather than walking four blocks from the subway or sitting in a bus in traffic. I like not hearing my neighbors, other than the occasional moo. I miss walking everywhere. I miss the PS 261 community. I miss my friends and the easy walking life when the weather is good and everyone is out.

There's nature here. The gorgeous Prospect Park and towering street trees on certain blocks don't compare to driving by mile after mile of freshly plowed fields, cows, and low mountains on every horizon. I moved here partly because I had summer house envy; some dear friends got a place in Pennsylvania and every time we left I thought, why are we leaving?

There are other changes that happened along with this geographic change. I wanted to work full time. I could have done that in NYC of course, but I am doing it here. I lived half my NYC life working full time and half of it as a mom with part-time jobs and volunteer. That part-time stuff gets old anywhere, although I suspect it would be horrible to do it here, whereas it was mostly great and then tolerable in Brooklyn. And without speaking for him, I think Dave was ready to leave, too, and is more of a suburban/country boy, himself.

Finally, I should also say that I live here now and am not going to write anything bad about it. Don't s--- where you eat, as they say. And maybe that's just the bottom bottom line.

But don't read me wrong. Brooklyn is a great place to live, to raise a family, to be a kid. I tell everyone here that and they often look at me like I'm crazy. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Until I did want to.

PS - I am told by my husband the gardener that magnolias don't smell, not here and not in Brooklyn. Lilacs, on the other hand...

PPS - we saw Lily's teacher again, at the Whole Foods Sunday afternoon. I swear, she's stalking us. She admits it, even! I'm really going to miss her. She's been one of the high points for all of us during this difficult transition.

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