Since then, the transition to suburban life has been slow and steady. Initially the kids weren't used to going out to their own yard to play. They kept asking when we were going to the playground because that's what we did in Jersey City. "We can go to the playground, but now you can play here," I said, pointing at our backyard, "whenever you want." The first few days after we moved in, the kids panicked when they couldn't see us. In our open-floor plan apartment there had been no question about where each inhabitant was at all times. Out here, it was easy for one of us to disappear to another floor or outdoors, out of sight of the kids.
In general, living in the suburbs feels easier. We as a family have more space to spread out indoors and the ability to kick a soccer ball right outside our back door instead of being an elevator ride away. The schools are good, free and set up by neighborhood so the kids have friends who all live close by. Daycare, activities and camps are much less expensive and we can walk to many of them. Even driving in the suburbs means easily finding a parking spot without the hassle of city parking regulations and expired meters.
The challenges of suburban life largely surround getting into the seasonal rhythm of house repair and yard work. This 109-year-old house requires tweaks and fixes seemingly every other week. A doorknob that falls out, the hinge that squeaks and the one light fixture that burns out every bulb in record time. Outdoors, last summer's lawn mowing evolved into raking piles of leaves which morphed into shoveling snow. The weeding alone seem to be a never ending task, but it's also become something the kids and I can do together, comparing who can pull the biggest weed. On the plus side, I've become quite adept a managing the lawnmower, leaf blower and the snowblower. Surely those are skills I add to my resume somehow, somewhere?
When it comes to getting to know the community, my neighbors have been kind and helpful and my block has been blessed with an inordinate amount of good cooks and friendly hosts so I know who to hit up for some extra flour or a glass of wine. As the kids have slowly made friends, as have I, finding fellow runners and foodies with the same sense of humor to gradually to weave into my tribe.
The biggest surprise has been how little I miss city life. I do miss my friends and the diversity that is only present here in much smaller numbers. But here there are great restaurants, classes and activities. We are still able to walk to town and when the kids scoot around like they did in Jersey City, we feel like the people we are at heart: city people with a suburban lifestyle.
This past weekend, I ran a race that I had run last year, just a week into life as a suburbanite. Whereas last year I didn't know a soul at the start line, this year I carpooled with a friend and met up with two others before the gun went off. It was such a nice feeling to have company and to recognize the trails and roads we ran along. I appreciated the multiple garden sprinklers cooling off runners along the course and the neighbors offering water from their front lawn. Despite living in huge cities and in urban environments for 22 years before our move, running that race, I felt at ease and at home. And as soon as I crossed that finish line, I turned right back around to cheer on my new friends to the finish line.