So, when it comes right down to it, my damn mother nurtured to much New York into me as a kid.
As many of you know, I am the Chief Operating Officer of a company that has it’s head quarters in New York. My weekly travels to lower Manhattan have defined the better part of the last 14 months and now I have the weird sensation of missing New York when I head home almost as much as I miss my family when I head down. It got me thinking, how had this come to be?
I’ve always been “at home” where ever I have found myself living. I think my early adult experiences of working for Outward Bound and learning to sleep in sub-optimal cold and wet environments has made me appreciative of how generally nice modern living is. I mean, most of us have shelter and food, so why not be happy with where you happen to be?
When Torri and I got married back in 1994 we were both living in Syracuse together. I was relatively happy she thought the place was cold and miserable. After Torri finished her Ph.D., Lincoln Nebraska was next on our itinerant journey west to San Diego. In Nebraska we were comfortable in our accommodations, but the community was a little bit like stepping into “The Stepford Wives” so one morning we packed it all in and drove west. We broke up the two day journey by staying in Dodge Kansas just so we could say “Let’s get the hell out of Dodge” when we woke up.
In San Diego we lived for a year and then it was off to the San Francisco Bay Area. July 1st of 1997 found us (on Apple’s dime) moving to Acton Massachusetts to be closer to Torri’s parents with our oldest child approaching the tender age of 1. The truth is, Home is where your family is.
Except when it isn’t.
My mother grew up on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. Almost every year my mother would drag me back to “The Old Country” for visits. We spent most of our time in Manhattan visiting my mother’s many United Nations friends from her time working as a speech writer for Carlos Romulo. I learned about the subways, the bridges, the tall buildings. I always enjoyed out trips there, even if sometimes the muggy summer air left a lot to be desired of in a friend’s apartment who didn’t “believe” in air conditioning.
It was on a morning walk in Tribeca the other week to meet a friend for a run that I realized my mother had screwed me. I was married to a woman who would never be happy in the hustle and bustle of New York. I find my time there energizing. Clarifying even. Torri is just put off by the sea of humanity and the smell.
When I finally met Alexis for the run portion of my morning workout, I told her that I thought my mother had raised a New Yorker. Worse, I explained, I had married a non-New Yorker. It’s not that Torri couldn’t live in New York City, it’s just that I’d not be able to soon afford any of the types of places she’d really enjoy living in. Alexis makes a suggestion that I win over the kids first. I laughed as I explained that this task would be even harder than winning over Torri.
In the area starting around the West Side Highway and 14th Street with a bounding lower edge of The Ritz Carlton at Battery Park and extending over to Kevin’s neighborhood in Alphabet city I am home. My home away from Massachusetts contains the neighborhoods of West Village, Meatpacking, a taste of Union Square, a sliver of Alphabet City, a smaller section of the Lower East Side, ( but I’m much more of a Lower West Sider ), Tribeca, Soho, the Financial District, and Battery Park. Now granted, the Hipsters and Trustafarians are a bit much in this area of New York these days, but this area has for me become my extended neighborhood.
I have new friends there. I have old friends nearby. I found it easy to build a body weight exercise circuit that I can enhance with runs with my friends.
The one thing that keeps it from truly being home is that my family isn’t there.
At the end of the day.
The truth is, Home is where your family is.