We signed the lease on our new apartment in late spring, in our landlord's office in midtown, in a big conference room on the top floor of a shiny office building. After the ink dried, we strapped the kids into the stroller, took the elevator down, and stepped outside. The world felt brand new. The quaint ground floor village apartment on the peaceful tree-lined block of our dreams was finally ours, and we needed to celebrate. So we all went to ride the Bryant Park carousel. It was a day of fulfillment, a day of great and dramatic change. We rode the carousel round and round in the middle of the lush park, watching the skyscrapers circle us and the people buzz about, and we knew. We knew that this was the beginning of a new season of our lives.
It takes a lot to be able to look in the mirror and accept, with confidence, certainty, and celebration, that your path is unique. And it takes even more to be able to embrace that path. Some families need space. Some families need nature. Some families need that certain peace of mind that comes with the yard and the car and the extra bedroom. And some families don't. We spent over two years trying on a different lifestyle- the lifestyle we were supposed to have "once we had kids". Moving out into Brooklyn to an immaculate limestone, we ran through the halls, and cooked big dinners, and decorated all of the nooks and crannies of our huge space. We drove into the city once in a while, and visited friends throughout the five boroughs. We made lots of art, cooked lots of food, and played lots of music. We really gave it a go, but something felt off. We began to feel further and further away from where we wanted to be. We longed day and night for something that we couldn't quite put into words. We felt almost as if we were living someone else's life.
And so, when an opportunity arose to give up all of our space, all of our distance, all of the halls to run through and room for guests, and to trade it all in for a tiny little apartment on the edge of a beautiful little park in the middle of the place that we silently always longed for, we made the deal. We traded in. And aside from packing my two suitcases and boarding a plane to New York City at age 18, this trade was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I firmly believe that there is a place for each of us in this world- a place that speaks to our soul. It's such a huge and lucky accomplishment to even be able to find it in this lifetime! Yet if we do, we must do all we can to be able to live there, right? Anything less would be an injustice. I think so anyway..
So we sold almost all of the furniture and took on the challenge of extreme small space living. Minimalistic practices became our new family endeavors. We arrived back to the village, the place that Gaby and I had called home for decades, and it all made sense. Life made sense. We knew we had made the right decision, and suddenly everything felt possible again. The summer was just arriving, and the warm air had a beautiful chaotic energy to it. My children began to wake up in the morning beaming and asking to go outside "into the city!". They suddenly both blossomed into these amazing outgoing creatures, thriving off of the urban energy the same way that Gaby and I do, and it blew me away. And I realized that I needed these days, this time, this season, to adjust with them. I needed to teach them. I needed to adventure with them. I needed to be with them, and only them, as we all settled into this new life as a family.
And so the blog went silent for a while, as I focused on settling into our new life in Manhattan, decorating a new apartment, integrating new routines and places and friends into our life, and arranging the bits and pieces of the everyday into a system that worked for our family. It was a much-needed break. And I want to thank all of my friends and readers for the letters of concern, for the emails asking if we were okay, for the notes of well wishes, and the comments asking me to come back to this space. Those words of kindness and concern meant so much to me. I missed this space. I missed this community.
During one of our first days in our new home, when many of our belongings were still in boxes and we were feeling a bit overwhelmed with the move and trying hard to reacquaint ourselves with the neighborhood, we wandered over to Avenue C and happened upon the 26th annual Loisaida Festival. The food, grilled in stands on the street and served hot and greasy, was insanely decadent. The spirit was even more beautiful. Dancing and drum-circles commenced on every corner. Children ran through the streets, which had been closed off to cars. The smell of fresh empanadas lingered all around and Gaby struck up conversations in Spanish with old friends and neighbors everywhere we went. The sense of community was, just as we had remembered it, strong and loving and welcoming. It felt so right.
We stayed out in the sun all day, eating and dancing and making friends. And when we got home, exhausted and full and slightly sun-burnt, we knew, beyond a doubt, that we had made the right decision. It took many years in New York City, many apartments in many neighborhoods, and much trial and hardship, to find our home. It took much soul-searching and contemplation and change to come to the realization that we had known, all along, exactly where we wanted to raise our children. And as we lounged, amongst our unpacked boxes with two wild children in a ridiculously small apartment, we knew had found it. We were home. And we really couldn't be happier.