I always thought I would die in New York City, wrapped in my leopard coat, a slice of Joe’s Pizza in my hand.
I couldn’t wait to move there after college, and spent 18 super-urban years in three Manhattan apartments. For the final 10, I had an awesome pre-war one-bedroom at the corner of Washington Square Park that was particularly hard to give up.
But then I married a man who dreamed of a house and a lawn and a son to play catch with. The man is kind of cute, so first I gestated and gave birth to the boy, and then that baby started to walk. The ninth-floor one bedroom, once so spacious, started to seem small. And awfully high up.
We moved to Montclair, NJ nine years ago. Leaving New York felt like an admission of defeat. I woke up the morning after we moved into our 1897 house, and inside my brain a voice was screaming: “What the hell am I doing in New Jersey?”The simplest adjustments—like that the drycleaner was already closed when I got off the train at 6:30 pm---would reduce me to tears.
Now I am a changed woman. I am a car-driving, tennis-playing, pool club-joining soccer mom. I fucking LOVE the suburbs. They totally rule.
I know you’re thinking, Stockholm Syndrome, so here are five random reasons why:
1. There are no hipster men wandering around with disgusting pubic hair beards. Don’t even try to tell me the dirty mountain man look is cute.
2. The chef at our local celebrated restaurant (Culinairiane) does not have “a slice and burn,” like the chef at Prune, which would be our local celebrated restaurant if we had never moved. (She paid a “body modification artist” to cut her arm and light her on fire. This piece of information has been haunting me ever since it was mentioned in passing in a New York Times profile of the chef/memoir writer.)
3. So many opportunities for female bonding! Monthly ladies’ poker nights, book groups, knitting circles. These events all include wine! Maybe city girls host these fun parties, but no one ever invited me. I think people are too busy working until all hours, then heading to the salon to have hot wax poured on their privates and get the hair ripped out by the roots. Which brings me to the next reason I am jumping up and down with excitement about living off exit 151.
4. The fashion and beauty bar is so much lower. Don’t get me wrong; we have well-kept, attractive ladies here in Montclair, enough to keep our many nail salons and clothing shops in business. But no one’s going to judge you (me) for wearing yoga pants and 3-year-old black Saucony running shoes all day. I do not have to update my wardrobe constantly -- which is a good thing, because I can’t afford to.
5. When you go out to eat with people, they actually converse with you. Friends in the city are constantly checking their phones and Blackberries and whatever the latest gadget is, and texting like you’re not even there. People, don’t tell me how badly you want to see me, drag me out of my PJs and cozy house, and then make me sit there where you text whoever about stuff that can totally wait. I’m missing "Modern Family" for this?
So that’s some of why I love being a suburbanite. Now if I could just find a decent slice of pizza.