I realized this week that I haven’t written a blog post for half a year. Wow! Time has flown. 2014 was a big year of change for us, particularly in the last quarter. It hasn’t been because I have had nothing to write about, but because I’ve had no time to write my blog. Now Manly Guy is working on Wall Street, we are living in New York City, and I’m writing my first Young Adult novel.
Last summer we were living in Northern California wine country and had been in the same house for nearly five years. In the spring I had encouraged Manly Guy to look at making a change with his career– I could tell that he had lost his enthusiasm for his work. I actively lobbied for the Northeast; I believe that it is good for children to experience both coasts, and I felt that there would likely be more opportunity for him if we were willing to head East. When he started poking around, he got very lucky with timing and a perfect position surfaced in NYC. He started working in Manhattan at the end of September. The kids and I followed in early November.
Now our life feels so different from the life we had six months ago. We used to be in a house with two garages and a yard– now we are in an apartment in Brooklyn. I used to drive every day– now I walk everywhere. (Last week my mileage was 42 miles. I ran 14 miles and walked 28.) We used to live in the Land of Perfect Weather– now we definitely have four seasons! The kids are different, too. We were already at the threshold, but we’ve now made the jump from young kids to older kids. T will be thirteen in less than two weeks; he now takes the subway on his own into Manhattan for his fencing classes. All three girls are less interested in toys and dolls and more into games, activities and pop culture.
Living in New York feels like living in a different country, and I’m not sure that I will ever feel like a real New Yorker. New York is terribly unforgiving, but if you are willing to work hard, there seems to be lots of opportunity (and tons of interesting people) here. I am so impressed with the immigrants who come to NYC, work hard and kick ass. People from all over the world come to The City in the hope of doing well.
Our neighborhood is great, with very much a village feel. T described it well when he said, “Like Disneyland, but edgier.” The brownstones are generally 2-3 stories (a much more human scale than Manhattan neighborhoods), with the two main retail streets running parallel a block apart, and it is very walkable. It has a colorful history, as well. At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was very much an Irish working class neighborhood. The park monument to the local boys who lost their lives in the Great War is filled with Irish names. Then the Italians came, and it was a big mafia spot for decades. The church where Al Capone got married is two blocks from our building. There is still one men’s social club on the main strip, but I’ve been told that there used to be one on every block. Now that Brooklyn has become trendy, there are many transplanted Manhattanites and Europeans living here, and the long-time locals bemoan the fact (never mind that their property values have gone through the roof).
Little by little, NYC has altered us all, if only a bit. T knows the subway system better than I do. I noticed yesterday that S said “Awesome!” like a kid from Brooklyn. V is even less shy than she was in CA (if that is even possible). Of the girls, J misses CA the most, but she has matured so much since we arrived five months ago. They are all quickly becoming City Kids. Manly Guy fit in immediately upon arrival (in CA people often asked him if he was from NY; he was born here but left as a baby). Even I have changed, the third generation native California Girl. Five days ago I was crossing the street when a driver blew through the light a few feet from me. Before I knew it, my hands flew in the air and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “Yo! Idiot!” I was shocked to hear it come out of my mouth. I heard a little kid a few paces behind me repeat what I said, which made me chuckle.
I’m grateful to be on this big adventure. The next few years should be interesting!