One premise of my blog is that I’m a New Yorker exploring life in Vienna—both what this area has to offer and what life is like being away from New York and my family. The Washington area is known for being a place of transplants. People come from all over the US and the world. I’m not alone in being far from family.
Since middle school I wanted to live in Washington. I visited as a teenager and still remember the marble buildings glistening in the sun and thinking that there were opportunities to change things for the better—to help children achieve their potential by working on education policy issues.
I arrived in DC, master’s degree in hand, in 2002. In 10 years I have tried to leverage opportunities to work in different jobs, learn new skills, network, and forge professional and personal adventures.
Yet, when I became a mom in 2010, I started wondering if perhaps it’s time to move closer to New York—to family.
We see our family a few days at a time several times a the year. Our moms have been super about visiting us regularly. Our siblings have also made the journey to see us since becoming aunts and uncles. We have tried to visit New York often, first taking Bug on the plane and later driving late at night when she was too big to sit on our lap for the free plane ticket.
But these nighttime car journeys with Bug leave us with nerves frayed and minds tired. And several consecutive days with family is intense, despite all of our collective love.
Yet even more importantly, I have felt sad (guilty?) about Bug and her grandmothers not being able to spend more time together. She can’t just “run away to grandma’s” for the afternoon. I have also felt sad for some time that our families are missing out on the ordinary miracles Bug brings to the world (she starting saying, “daffodil”, can sing along with Old MacDonald and requests Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!). She also has a cousin on Long Island her age with whom she could be pals.
Recently Drew and I spent a weekend exploring Brooklyn, thinking this was the contender neighborhood should we return. Neither of us had spent much time there, so we walked about eight miles around Park Slope and Bay Ridge. At $1 million for a two-bedroom apartment, I don’t think we’re headed to Park Slope, despite the young community and amazing restaurants (spiced fried chick peas!). We left feeling less like New Yorkers than we thought we were.
I have written before about having a community when you raise a child. I think Vienna has many networks, and I do feel connected in some ways. We certainly have some great friends that we really enjoy. But there’s nothing like grandma. It remains to be seen if we’ll make the leap.