Sunday, October 23, 2011

Broadway vs the Beach

So let me start this blog off with a little story. Yesterday I was leaving Barnes & Nobles in Manhattan when a woman stopped me. She asked me if I was a New Yorker because she needed directions. I gladly gave her directions to the Met which was only 3 blocks away. However by doing this, she labeled me a "New Yorker." I do not consider myself one at all. I love my New Yorker husband who was born and raised and has lived 31 out of 33 years of life here, but marrying him doesn't make me one too. I am a New Englander. Plain and simple.

Now that I have said that, living here in NYC definitely impacts the way we are raising our son. He is only 12 weeks old but has already adapted to the lifestyle. Sleeping through fire engine sirens and the horn of the Amtrak train that flies by our apartment. Smiling at the screeching breaks of the approaching trains in the subway. Calmly sitting in his stroller while mama bumps up and down the stairs of our apartment building. All of these things I believe he has inherited from his dad. Me not so much.

Where as Michael grew up ten blocks away from our current apartment, it feels like sometimes I grew up worlds away from it. Plymouth, Massachusetts is not the middle of nowhere. Like NYC, it is filled with tourists coming to see the "foundation" of this country, America's Hometown. And while Rockafeller Center may be impossible to walk through from early November until after the new year, Plymouth can hold its own in the tourist industry, especially around Thanksgiving. That said, I don't believe that the population of Plymouth would even fill the first 20 floors of the Empire State Building.

I grew up in a neighborhood. Not like anything here in the boroughs. A place where we would have block parties with all the families. BBQs, bike races, camping in the back yard, getting lost in the woods between houses, coming home for dinner when my mom would ring a bell. Yes. That is right. My dad hung this big cast iron cow off the back porch that had a bell hanging from it and when we heard it ring we would run home from where ever we were in the neighborhood. My dad also would bake homemade chocolate chip cookies every Friday when he got home from work, and me, my sister and brother would always have friends over. We had a tree fort in our back yard and when we were old enough, were allowed to ride our bikes down the road to Bramhall's Country Store to get ice cream. No, I did not grow up in the olden days. This was only ten to fifteen years ago.

Fast forwarding to now, 2011, living in Queens, NY, I do not see myself raising my son in the same way I was raise. This sometimes really makes my heart hurt. Years ago I never even imagined ever having children, nevermind worrying so much about how I would raise them. I, myself, have definitely adapted well to the "city life." I love not having a car, being able to walk a few blocks to get everything I need, having fresh fruit and veggie carts at every corner. I like being able to walk eight blocks to my job, and the convenience of being able to get pretty much anything you need 24 hours a day. However, it kind of sucks knowing I won't be able to just ring a bell for my son to come home from playing in the street with the neighborhood kids. ((There DEFINITELY isn't any "playing in the street" here.)) And he won't be able to go play in the woods, or even in a yard for that matter, without having to walk 24 blocks to the nearest park.

I know this probably sounds absolutely ridiculous. I am laughing at myself as I type this. Plymouth is not worlds away from Queens. It is actually only a 4.5 hour drive! I look at the surroundings of my childhood and the surroundings of my husband's, and they are just very different. Part of me feels like my son is going to miss out on alot not being able to grow up like I did. Another part of me is excited for him to experience a city that has so much more than was ever offered to me in a small town. There is a lot of different culture here, from museums to even the corner deli. But Plymouth has great history, too. While NYC is the mecca for the most different types of art, it is small towns on Cape Cod that inspire such beautiful works. Where Manhattan offers a great enviroment for those business people with the need for speed ((well maybe not in this economy right now)), New England offers that slower, simpler life of many family owned businesses that towns are founded on. All my thoughts of raising a child seem to be caught up in a vicious cycle of this vs. that, here vs. there, Broadway vs. the beach.


  1. Because he is lucky enough to have the two of you, he'll always have access to the best of both worlds. <3

  2. I think your words ring true for many parents. How many people stay where they were brought up? Americans are statistically some of the most transient people on earth. I did take it to extremes, though. I brought my son up in three countries other than the one where I was reared. He has different cultural touchstones for his life, celebrates holidays in "foreign" ways, has different holidays and occasionally speaks a different language. Yet as a New Yorker, I like to joke that the year I spent living in Massachussetts was the most foreign experience I ever experienced. People don't fully realize the difference in mindset between New York and Massachussetts, or New York and New England, if you will. And like all bi-cultural children, your little one will be stronger and richer for having a foot in two worlds.

    And PS: New York spreads over three islands and the mainland US. We have beaches here, too! Good ones! ;)