It has been over a year since my last blog post. It has been almost 20 years since my last confession. I personally feel more disappointed in myself about the first one. Not that everyone in the blogosphere is sitting behind their computers every day wondering--when is she going to update her blog! But still, I love it. What happens in a year? Everything and nothing really. Some years leave much more of an impression on me than others. It is the reason that 2009 the year I coasted along pinching pennies can feel like a million eons ago when 1998 the year I rocked those black leather platform boots to all the clubs on Lansdowne St. feels like yesterday. Another everything/nothing feeling is experienced by parents and can be summed up by this wise old saying: "When you are raising children, the days are long but the years are short." Tina Fey recently remarked in her book "Bossypants" that this adage is true for two groups: "stay at home mothers and sex workers." Does that mean that time is passing us by? Perhaps, but I like to think it is worth it (as a stay at home mother, not a sex worker that is.)
So what I mean to say is that over the past 14 months since I last wrote here the year has gone by very fast but the days have indeed been long. My daughter, Pixie Pie, is now 4.5 years old which means that she says things like: "The biggest number in the world is a googolplex!" and "When Busy Boy grows up and I'm gonna marry him..." Everything/nothing. Busy Boy recently turned 2 and all that that implies. If you are a stay at home mom and perhaps also a sex-worker (hey, don't judge) then you will know what that means. I realize now that last year when Busy Boy was 6 to 18 months and Pixie Pie was 3 years old that the entire 12 months of mellow behavior was really supposed to be some kind of a mercy or grace period in which I should have been gathering my strength in order to deal with the forthcoming mental and physical growth we were to experience; growth that was on par with the previous year in which Pixie Pie was a toddler and Busy, a newborn. I missed it, though. I was coasting and thought the fun party would never end. While I perhaps should have been investing in safety proofing and reading up on discipline techniques, I spent my free time watching seasons 1-4 of Mad Men on DVD, crocheting a variety of brightly colored winter hats which would ultimately be worn by no one, and of course, blogging. In the calm before the storm, as it turned out, we found it was the most perfect time to realize the "American Dream": home ownership. A home that a family of 4 could actually fit in and for us that had to mean the suburbs. Plus, we could have a yard!
Leaving Boston when we finally did it was like leaving a boring and emotionally distant relationship, that is to say, easy. I lived in various neighborhoods in Boston for 14 years, including the yuppie-infested North End (again, I'm not judging--I was one in my 20s) where I could walk to work, listen to garbage trucks 3 mornings a week, and endure the open heckling of perverts young and old as I walked home every night carrying the exact same Italian sandwich I would have for dinner the entire time I lived there. All I can say is that I didn't love it. For me, a certain income is required to fully enjoy urban living and I didn't have it. Hence, the sandwiches. (Eggs and peppers, by the way, delicious.) During this time I met my now-husband and after a few months of dating and a whirlwind engagement and marriage culminating in a pregnancy at Disney World (come share the magic!) we ended up living in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston which meant that we had to drive or take the T to work, the garbage truck only came to collect once a week thank goodness, and there were no good sandwiches.
The house we eventually bought and are now living in was as whirlwind of an experience as our nuptials and child rearing. Even though things have moved fast for us over the past 5 years, my husband is actually very logical and thorough. He has an ability to think things through in a way that makes me so jealous (I think I just stole that line from Bossypants). I am the type of person that while not completely impulsive, relies more on gut feelings and "energy" to make decisions. A combination of these two perspectives is what brought us to our dream. My husband, who is almost constantly in front of a screen and online, diligently monitored home prices, sales, etc. and loved this website called Redfin from which he would e-mail me listed homes to which I would unenthusiastically respond with comments such as "yeah but I love wallpaper", "what's wrong with ranches?", and his personal favorite "I can see why aliens would want to land there." I'm just not an online shopper--I need to see things in person before I can even think about them. So instead of hiring a realtor, we just plugged a bunch of addresses from online postings into our GPS and did drive-bys. We actually did this on numerous occasions over a period of 9 months before we even stepped inside a house for sale. During our drive by of the house we now live in I had a premonition. In my memory it happened in slow motion: we turn the corner near the house, a corner I now know well, and across the street a little girl in a pink coat runs across the front lawn. It could have been Pixie Pie. I thought it was a sign and my heart jumped. I was thinking: this is where we should be, we could be happy here, we could fit in here. The next day I decided to browse online so I went to the first web site I found and the house I had the butterflies in my stomach about was the featured property. My heart jumped and I e-mailed my husband for the first time with something like "oh no it's our house--we need to go buy it before someone else does!" We contacted the realtor and got inside the house. It had everything we wanted including a decently finished basement for the toys we would be hauling there, presumably in a separate truck. We saw 2 more homes that day but my mind was made up and we made an offer that night. Over the next few days which included 28" of snow in Roslindale and a few more nervously crocheted ugly hats we were home owners.
Our town (I can call it our town now because we've been here over a year) is about 20 miles northwest of Boston. It is what I consider the perfect place for my family. It is a charming New England town but also very progressive. It has a lot of Revolutionary War history which appeals to me because I love history and also, ghosts. Another plus is that we can remove our own trash and recycling to a very organized transfer station which is at once disgusting and somehow satisfying. Elizabeth Warren and President Obama would both totally dig our town. I imagine them walking down the street, holding hands, and smiling at us in approval of the strong middle-class and also our political support (its pretty blue here). Its also pretty diverse culturally, as small as it is (population 20,000). The schools totally rock in all of the rankings which makes me look forward to the opportunities my children will have and also glad that I will not need to pay to send them to private school which is probably what we would have wanted to do if we stayed in Boston. About a day after we moved, I enrolled Pixie Pie in preschool. When she left her old preschool, I gave a month's notice. The last week she was there in the crowded coat and cubby room Pixie's cubby was being forcibly taken over by a new name tag that read "Sam." That's how it is in the city--there's always somebody waiting to take your place, even at 3 yrs. old. At the new preschool there were a few differences I noticed right away. 1. Adults are called Mr. or Ms. Firstname or Lastname instead of simply by their first name. At first this was weird to me because it made me feel uncomfortably old but then I noticed that the children seemed to me a little less precocious when the pecking order was supported by this convention. I liked that. 2. With the other couples it was a little less eye contact, a little more shyness at first. This seemed discouraging. Will I make any friends here, I thought? In the city everyone acted very confident. Introductions were made immediately, everyone knew everyone else, but then never talked again. Here it took a little warming up but once comfortable formed actual friendships. Which is great because socialization is key in this town because there are seriously No Good Sandwiches. You have to grow your own vegetables and bake your own bread and make them yourself. Now that's organic!
Ah, suburban living. I have to say, I do love it. It is quiet. It is safe. The biggest dangers here are mosquitoes, falling trees, and boredom, in that order (Bossypants...). It is the perfect place for an aspiring writer. The spirits of Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau among others are here because this is where they lived and now have streets named after them. I feel that the American Dream has been realized for me at a time in which this idea or milestone is becoming increasingly distant and unrealistic for many Americans, especially people of color and single mothers (as a Catholic, it is hard not to feel guilty about that). My husband and I both come from poor areas of the state and when I first moved to this town I sadly wondered for a minute, am I good enough to live here? I mean, the people I have met seem so diplomatic and perfect. Vice is at an all-time low. I've yet to see someone smoke a cigarette (outside of the local Kmart parking lot) or loudly berate their children (outside of the local McDonalds). It is just a lot different from where I grew up. I guess you could say I've gone from being upper lower middle class like the Simpsons to being lower upper middle class like George Orwell. That's how it feels. The upward mobility I learned about in college can still happen but it is small and requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice. I feel that I have everything now but still plenty of room to grow.