Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Brooklyn Exodus

The initial exodus started after our kids were close to a year old but it didn't really touch our gang until this past spring. The families who left the city earlier were the exception, not the rule. Most of us were ankle deep in Brooklyn concrete, embracing the lifestyle of raising our children in close proximity to one another. We touted the advantages of city life: convenience! parks! community! culture! Trader Joe's! And don't get us started on our neighborhood's very desirable public elementary schools. All in walking distance. We couldn't imagine being anywhere else.

Deb was the first to move. She and her husband bought a beautiful home in Westchester while pregnant with their second child. So ingrained were her city resources, however, that the house stayed empty for the duration of her pregnancy. She wanted to give birth in the city and then transition to her life as a suburban mom so they waited until the spring to move. Next came Lauren. Her husband got his dream job in Hartford in May so they doubled their living space for half the price and moved to Connecticut. Heather followed soon thereafter. It was touch and go for a while as she and her husband debated the advantages of moving close to his family in a tony Long Island town versus staying in Brooklyn. They realized that a move to the 'burbs was the best thing for their family and off they went for more space and a saner life. Yesterday, I watched Jeanmarie and her family pack a giant truck for their cross-country move to Los Angeles. They will live 8 blocks from the beach in a spacious home. Her 13 year old son will go to a great public school which doesn't require an application and an epic subway ride. Her husband will have a bounty of career opportunities.

Then there's me. Since my daughter was born and I decided to work part time in order to raise her (as a single parent, I couldn't imagine being out of the house for the 12 hours a day it would take if I returned to my career track), I have struggled financially. I joked to my father that I should probably move back to Connecticut where I was born, raised, and from where I happily departed 25 years ago. Several hours later, he has a house lined up for me to see, a friend-of-friend's 2 bedroom beach cottage. I went to see it and it was adorable and perfect. And twice the size of my Brooklyn apartment at half the price. As an added bonus, my newly-retired mother lives in the next town (helloooo, free babysitting). Moving became sort of a no-brainer. I now have less than two weeks left in Brooklyn.

I sit here, surrounded by half-empty boxes and I am welling with tears. I felt similarly at my college graduation. Life was propelling me forward, and good things were ahead, but I was also mourning this wonderful, adventure-filled phase in my life. I have so loved this time with these people, watching our awesome progeny grow. Today, I recommit to my Mommune and to these friendships. It'll take more work than a quickie "hey, who's up for Carroll Park in 20 minutes" text, but I know that we will all be in one another's lives for the long haul.

I realize that we NYC-types talk about real estate and square footage and rents ad nauseum, and I apologize for that. We know that there are a myriad of reasons for this and we see all of the things which make our community so irresistible that rents keep their steady, painful incline. But once I popped my head above the big Brooklyn bubble, I realized that there are other things out there. There is sanity, financial security, space, family, yards, garages, and yes, fun. I see where my recently departed friends are. Is the transition hard? Heck, yeah. Who wants to schlepp two kids into car seats to go anywhere a la Deb, or have to respond to an evite for a Pinkberry yogurt trip with the kids two weeks from now in order to meet new mom friends like Lauren? But as all of our departees have settled in with their new lives, a common thread has emerged. Happiness. These moves have strengthened families and made life, well, easier. Who knew?

So the real question now is, who's next?

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