We were lucky enough to leave the city Sunday.All this talk about ‘leaf peeping’ and apple picking and pumpkins hunts and hayrides had me feeling like I was seriously depriving my kids of more iconic ‘All American’ experiences. How dare I.

More so, I think we were all ready for a dose of the country, which takes on a whole new meaning living in a place like Manhattan.

It’s the kind of feeling that you don’t really realize is there, until actually just removing yourself from the urban energy.

Things have been busy, we’ve been trying to establish new routines and focus with the kids at the school, and weekends have snuck up a bit, so with the exception of picking a day and securing a car, we hadn’t done any planning for the great escape.

Saturday night, hockey buzzing along in the background and beer filling our glasses, we did a highly focused search of ‘best day trips for leaf peeping from NYC.’ Surprisingly, searching with such a laughable level of sophistication returned exactly what we were looking for, and we settled on a route, with a few ‘maybe stops’ along the way, and leaving it at that. No tickets purchased, no timing set, no photo ops scouted- a car, a few towns, and a departure time.

Again, the level of intensity during the week, and some of my city weekends, for that matter, have forced me into more moments where only the absolutes (like lining up a vehicle) are tended to. Preservation of energy. We also agreed to bring the dog to also give him some country air (really?), so that added an element to consider. (And immediately, and thankfully, ruled out visits to farms, where he would have either attacked a cow, or been trampled by a horse, while we pranced through the fields of golden corn, and scraped cow shit off of pumpkins, and later, kid shoes. Not in the mood for any of that. No thanks.)

And again- it’s hard to say how much of the day was for us parents really, versus the kids (and don’t forget the dog). But we were sure to build in fun for them- collecting leaves, throwing leaves, hunting for ghosts, finding witchy playgrounds, eye-spying blazing red tree after red-tree, and procuring gummies for the last leg of the trip (after surviving a gag-worthy gas station restroom).

Still not sure how to navigate that line between ‘bringing them along’ on our fun, versus having their experiences and reactions driving things. It is of course a balance, and sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we get it horribly wrong.

I hope that when Nora writes in her Monday morning journal where they recall a favourite memory from the weekend she practices writing the brilliant colours of the leaves that we saw yesterday. But there’s a decent chance that she’ll write about how her ‘brother fell in the toilet last night when he was goofing around on the pot.’ Good chance that will win.

I’m trying…!

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Underground for 90

Things that you think about when you’ve heard ‘ladies and gentlemen- we are delayed because of train traffic in front of us’ for almost an hour:
– man, I really wish there was internet down here

– I really should find a way to jam a book into my laptop bag. For times like this.

-hmm. I wonder if that mom brought enough snacks for her kids. All of my snacks are in my weekend touring bag. At home. Where i should be by now.

-damn. I really wish I had a way of letting Brett know that I’m stuck down here. Still.

-I wish there were more interesting conversations going on around me that I could eavesdrop on.

-I’m getting hungry.

-those people who got on at the last stop look like they got soaked up there. It must be really shitty out there. But how the f$&* would I know? I’ve been stuck down here for nearly a f$*ing hour now.

-why does rain f&*% up the subway lines so much here anyway?

-I wish there was Internet so that I could at least online shop for new chelsea boots and a rain jacket while sitting here.

-it’s a really good thing that I wasn’t on pick-up today.

-I forgot my f$*#ing umbrella at home.

-I’m hungry.

-Are we seriously stopped mid-tunnel aGAIN?

-Buddy, don’t apologize for the inconvenience- just fix the g’damn tracks

-I guess I could start making a Christmas list while I wait. With Internet.

-I’m really f$*ing hungry.

-holy s$it – has it been 90 minutes now? F$&* me!

-No. No, we’re not stopped again. No.


In or out

When you don’t commit, you get to live on the outside and feel like it’s ‘only temporary’, and therefor less terrifying, less real, of less consequence… You can trick yourself into feeling┬álike you’re ‘just a visitor’ and therefor everything you do is less permanent and significant in terms of impact and influence (and damage..!)

We spent one of those rare weekends where community and kid commitments dictated our activities, instead of a list of sites and activities and explorations that I’d curated during my Friday and Saturday morning coffee routine…exceptionally important for the kids who got to have real play dates with friends, in our neighbourhood, doing purely kid-driven stuff.

Not that my itineraries dismiss this criteria, but they’re certainly crafted with my selfish desire to see new stuff, take cool photos, and fuel my creativity with new experiences…

While I’d felt so lonely last weekend, a weird set of circumstances had us going out on our first ‘couples date’ with real live friends, actually talking as people who ‘live’ here, moaning with legitimacy about rental costs, sharing fears about middle-school competitiveness, talking about which storage locker place is best… Uniquely New York, but ‘normal’ ish stuff to talk about when you’ve shifted from visiting to living here….

Which really, I don’t think I have.

I sometimes think I’m more comfortable than I really am. Which is a pretty normal feeling for a lot of us, especially with Monday morning blues rolling in…

Maybe, for a period in your life, you don’t ever really need to make that shift, fully.┬áNot sure how practical that is, or if there are ways of always feeling like a visitor that help to keep the spirit of curiosity and exploration alive… While also embracing enough of a committed, settled approach to still feel like you belong, that you have meaningful connections to people and community…

I want my kids to feel safe and embraced and a part of something, both so that they have the support and comfort that a ‘home’ and community offer, and also so that they feel responsible to contribute to, and show respect to something bigger than themselves.

And if I’m acting like this is all temporary and fleeting and not really something to invest in, then how can I expect that they’ll know what that means.

So instead of showing up at the community event yesterday to make a little appearance, fleet around offering pleasantries, friendly yet removed enough to not really require more than an hour of commitment, and then ushering us off to some other corner of the city with one of 14 fall festivals tempting us, me, I begrudgingly ( at first, I’ll admit) resigned to staying in a 2 mile radius for an entire day.

And the kids had a great time.

No Lower East Side Pickle Day this year. But the kids played and ran and danced and scooted and carousel-ed their little butts off, and we made a step to being a committed part of something. For now at least…;)

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