I suspect that the biggest thing I will miss about New York is the pedestrian lifestyle. Our pediatrician is half a block from my apartment, as is my dentist. I have gotten into a bad habit of stopping by a little neighborhood bistro while walking Tilly in the evenings to pick up a to-go order of fries with house-made aioli when we are craving a potato side to go with steak, or roast chicken, or moules prepared at home. I have dashed out to the small grocer down the street for milk, or bananas, or bandaids, or toilet paper what feels like every other day of the week for the past two years. The bodega around the corner has a surprisingly impressive array of flowers for any given Tuesday, but if I want to up the ante, there are two lovely florists within two blocks of my home. Central Park is one avenue away, and so my running routes are blissfully close to home and the entire circuit — from walking out my apartment door to returning through it — takes under 40 minutes and I can be in the shower and then at my desk by 10 a.m. if I am disciplined about leaving as soon as our nanny arrives. Not bad when pressed for time. We can walk to the butcher, to countless restaurants (many of them among our favorites in the city — scroll to the bottom of that post to see all our treasured haunts), to great coffee shops, to a darling old-fashioned toy store, to two amazing ice cream shops (Van Leeuwen and Big Gay), to four or five fantastic playgrounds, to my OBGYN and my General Internist, to the farmer’s market, to two kid-friendly museums (Natural History and Children’s Museum), to a lovely children’s bookstore, to the groomer, to the vet. I could go on and on. But it is astounding how completely we can live our lives without ever leaving the Upper West Side, or needing to get in a car, or even having to factor transit time into our daily errands. We open the door, and the world is upon us.
That aspect of Manhattan — its walkability — has never fallen into the taken-for-granted oblivion of quotidian life. I was delighted by this lifestyle change when I moved to NYC almost four years ago, and I am delighted by it now. I love the unfussiness of slipping into my mules and running down the block for something narrow and specific — say, popsicles for the kids or a bottle of champagne to celebrate good news — without feeling it is onerous, or a commitment, or that I should first check a few shopping lists to tick a few other items off. I can sprint down the pavement and be back in three minutes, butter in hand. There is something about the proximity of everything that makes it mentally — and physically — easier to “up and go.” It continuously suggests the art of the impromptu. “Do you feel like margs?” I can ask Mr. Magpie at 5:44 one evening and return with a handful of limes and some tequila from the corner liquor shop by six. One of my favorite pre-COVID self-care rituals back when I lived down by Columbus Circle was ending my work day at four — an hour before our nanny left — and walking over to Epicerie Boulud to have a glass of rose at the bar while reading my Kindle. I can’t say it made for great reading, but it was fun to people-watch, chat with the barkeeper, and just sort of zone out in my own alone-but-not Manhattan enclave.
I will miss this.
We are moving to a house on a beautiful cul de sac and will need to drive everywhere — to the grocery, to the school, to the doctor, to the coffee shop. But as with so much in life, it is all a tradeoff, and the best way forward is to practice gratitude for what I have in the present and stay open-minded for the future. I am convinced I will soon be waxing poetic about the virtues of living on a cul de sac with no cut-through traffic, where our children can ride their bikes in peace. I look forward to the calm of walking my dog without having to dodge — well, anything. I will not miss the density of people, or the weird things witnessed on a regular basis because of that density — everything from people spitting on the ground just inches from your feet to the horrifying incident that transpired just last week, when a man started yelling obscenities at our nanny at the playground and then told her: “I’ll be waiting for you.” She called us in a panic, and Mr. Magpie dropped everything and sprinted to escort her home. We were all shaken, and I even thought that maybe I could start sending our dog out with her? (Tilly is a sweet thing but she is also 65 pounds, with a bark to match.) I’m not so naive to think that these incidents can’t happen outside New York. I grew up in D.C. and lived in Chicago and know that these things can and will happen wherever you are — suburbs and small towns included. But the frequency of these disturbances while I have lived here — that I will not miss.
There was a moment when we were walking through our soon-to-be new home that I stood in the backyard, beneath the set of quaint wind chimes that the owners had installed on the back patio, and I felt the most tremendous sensation of tranquility. No sirens, no unnerving yells, no honking — just, quiet. Stillness. The only thing suggesting the passage of time the undulation of shadow from the clouds above. I crave that right now. I don’t know if it’s a me thing — i.e., I’m naturally inclined toward wanting something a bit slower — or because of living in Manhattan through COVID with very few excursions outside the city, or because of living here with two small children full-stop, or because I am in my mid-30s and hungry for stability and quiet, or because I am entering a Walden phase of life, but there it is. I have a feeling that I will still open my door and find the world upon me — just a quieter corner of it.
+Happy Memorial Day! Grateful for those who served.
+We have been living through a season that is all second growth — especially in the shadow of this pandemic.
+Have heard such good things about this reasonably priced candle in the spanish moss scent.
+Love everything about this white bustier dress, including the price.
+A really good navy and white striped sweater for cool evenings.
+Splash pad season is officially upon us. I bought micro this popover and mini the girl version (also comes in pink, but mini will not stand for pink when her brother gets blue, as “blue is my favorite color,” as she informs me five, six, eight, twenty-two times a day). I had been eyeing them for awhile and had hoped to score them on sale but they’ve been selling out left and right, so I finally pounced. These will be great for the stroller ride / walk home from the park, and then for pool and beach days in the Hamptons in a few weeks, and then for after playing in the kiddie pool behind our home in a few weeks after that! (!!!)
+Some great pool and backyard toys here.
+In this same vein, but some extra Dock & Bay towels to keep in the basket of our stroller — I’ve written so much about these but they are great because they take up so little space compared to standard terrycloth towels and are surprisingly absorbent. Great for travel or city babies.
+I’ve shared this dress a few times, but it really is perfect.
+White joveralls! So fun and fresh for summer. I like layering an unexpected blouse beneath overalls, but this rainbow stripe tee would also be fresh as an easy mom summer look. (With Freedom Moses slides?)
+On the other end of the spectrum: chic neutrals and khakis.
+These retro jelly purses are cute for a little one heading to the pool.
+Just bought this toddler camera for my niece.
+A personalized fraction puzzle! So clever for a little one.
+Love this striped, Lem-Lem-esque kimono to pair with jeans or even throw on over a suit.