In late September, I traveled to New York City for the Social Good Summit. I stayed in a charming little hotel on the Upper East Side and walked to a nearby sandwich shop for lunch. We took the subway across town for a lovely and intimate Italian dinner. We rode taxis back across town and I settled into my suite for the night. This is the life I was meant to live.
Then, I was in Philadelphia last weekend for a fun little blogging event with a few fellow bloggers. Afterwards, we went for a little gelato and walked past the urban boutiques that surrounded the shop. I confessed that I always felt like I was meant to be a city girl.
While I grew up in rural Southern Maryland, I always envisioned myself living the young, urban professional life. That might have something to do with the fact that I came into my prime in the early 90s when yuppies were also at their prime. But I could see myself as a high-powered career woman dressed in my shiny high heels and power suit. I would walk city blocks and eat at fancy restaurants and go home to my high-rise condo with my black lacquer furniture (that was a fantasy held over from the 80s).
I did move to the city after high school. I went to college in Cleveland, Ohio. Once known as the “mistake on the lake,” Cleveland was a nice medium-sized city and my college was situated in an urban area. And it really wasn’t all that awesome. I wanted bigger, better, different.
So I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Yeah, the joke was on me.
Raleigh is a beautiful small city. A great place to raise a family. I, however, was a young single girl and it didn’t really suit me.
Eventually I met my husband and we planned our escape. We had both spent time traveling to various spots around the world before we met each other and we both wanted a life bigger than North Carolina had to offer. We strongly considered moving to the Northeast near his family. They were scattered in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. We could take our pick.
But city life was too expensive and too crowded and we had started amassing some belongings in our starter home. We’d look to live in the suburbs. Then, my overactive imagination kicked in and I dreamed of living in a small New England town. I could see the old Victorian home we would remodel and the church steeple in the town square decorated for Christmas every year.
That never actually happened. We realized that to live the life we wanted, we’d have to have good jobs making a lot of money. That would most likely mean jobs in NYC, a daily train commute, and not much time for anything except working.
We stayed in Raleigh and embraced the suburban life. We loved our house and the setting. It was close and convenient to everything but it still wasn’t any place I had dreamed of. So when the chance to move became a real possibility, we took it. We had decided to relocate north and pick a location pretty much anywhere between Washington, DC and Baltimore.
In case you don’t know your geography, that doesn’t narrow things down a whole lot. Both of us were mostly working from home so a daily commute wasn’t really an issue. It was really making a dream list and hoping we could find it:
- A big house (I like to spread out)
- An architecturally interesting house
- A new house OR a really cool old house
- A yard with mature trees
- Near good schools
- In a friendly neighborhood
- With lots of kids close to my son’s age
- Near a Starbucks
- Close to a Target
- Not far from a highway
- With nice countertops
Yes, I started getting a little nitpicky at the end. We were actually able to easily find all of this. If we had about a million dollars to spend on a house. Since we didn’t and don’t, we looked at smaller suburbs that were a little further out than I wanted.
Then we found Eldersburg, Maryland.
There’s a Kohl’s, Walmart, Starbucks, a really good sushi place, tons of Chinese restaurants, authentic pizza, and at least 4 grocery stores nearby. It’s about 10-15 minutes from a major highway. And we got a nice, new big house… with a lousy yard. The schools are good and we have granite countertops. I’d say we did pretty well and we’re working on figuring out what to do with this yard.
But the biggest surprise, the most pleasant surprise, is feeling like I’ve moved to Wisteria Lane, only with a lot less drama.
The day I moved in, my neighbors invited me to the upcoming block party on Labor Day. The day after, another neighbor brought me cookies and pasta salad and a telephone book so I could get to know the area. My son is surrounded by kids close to his age and it’s music to my ears when he says, “Mommy, I’m going out to play.”
We’ve had kids birthday parties and girls night out and a Halloween parade and we’ve even start a book club. ME, IN A BOOK CLUB. I never knew something like that would get me so excited. But here I am, back in my home state, pretty far from being a city girl, and I love it. It’s my little slice of suburban heaven.
Aww yay! I have the same feelings every time I visit a big city. But then I am always happy to come home. Sounds like you found the best of both worlds!
I wish I was a tad closer to the big city but then it probably wouldn’t be suburban heaven. I propose you and your family come visit us (we have lots of room) and we can take Washington by storm! Or just sightsee 😉
That’s awesome, Fadra. I’m so glad you’ve found your forever (or seems like forever for now) home. :>
Forever is too long for me to think about. But I would imagine we’ll be here at least 12 more years 🙂
That is awesome! Definitely one of my dreams to live in a neighborhood like yours – where those you’re surrounded by are truly neighborly! Glad you and yours are settling in nicely!
The hard part is, you never know what you’re going to get. You can rely on schools and traffic and easily pick your house. But getting good neighbors in a good neighborhood? Yes, I’m truly lucky.
You are so lucky to have such a fantastic neighborhood! That is awesome. I always thought i was a city girl too, then I lived in Boston for a year. Nope! haha.
I think I could do city life temporarily. Maybe in 90 day stints but Id always need to retreat to my “house in the country.”
Sounds like a great neighborhood! I love the city too, but we found a great spot for us in Maine. We live in a downtown area of a nice New England town, near the highway and tons of local shops and we can still get to Boston or NY pretty easily. Funny how our requirements change over the years!
Maine sounds heavenly to me but maybe I wouldn’t say that mid-January. I guess I’ll live vicariously through you. And YES, it does change over the years!