Recently I’ve found myself with a raging case of suburb envy, the affliction New Yorkers are most hard-pressed to confess to.
(It’s closely followed by dislike of the Angelika theater and a secret crush on the fajitas at Chili’s.)
It started at my brother’s house recently; I watched the kids through the window as they played out back with their cousins. They swung as long as they wanted without a single nanny staring them down. They tackled the slide without worrying about a bigger kid racing up from the bottom. I didn’t need to chase them with hand sanitizer afterward. They seemed safe.
They seemed happy.
At my mom’s house the girls pick fat peas from the garden and study the birds and Thalia tells me just how to put your finger in the tomato plants to see if they need water. They can worship at the garden hose on hot afternoons and run through the sprinkler, the greatest free activity in the history of summer activities. They can run around in bare feet or strip right down to to nothing.
Not a whole lot of naked sprinkler jumpers in Brooklyn these days.
At my uncle’s beach house this past weekend, Sage and Thalia watched, mouths agape, every time a big kid scooted by on a Big Wheel or Razor, as if a celebrity had passed. They forged weekend friendships with the children two doors down, bonding over sidewalk chalk and neighborhood dog petting. Sage tore up her feet navigating deep steps from the porch to the sidewalk by herself and still refused to stop. Thalia learned she really could play hopscotch. It felt in many ways felt like the best of my own suburban childhood where summer days meant ice cream trucks and summer nights meant flashlight tag and fireflies in jars.
I love everything about living in the City (except, of course, for the things that I don’t). I’m not sure that I’d trade it today. I’m not sure I’d trade it tomorrow.
But man, a backyard we don’t have to share with the entire tourist population of Western Europe would be dandy.
let’s just keep this between us, okay? If anyone in NYC finds out about my suburban envy, I could be totally stripped of my hard-won (917) area code, and forced to eat things like blueberry bagels.