005: Country Mice or City Gals?

Thoughts on newborn life in Hudson Valley and a (v) possible return to NYC

Last weekend we hosted a sip-and-see party for our friends to come and meet baby V.* Our friends brought their kids, and at one point I glanced outside and saw two 4-year-olds gallivanting outside along the woods lining our yard. And I couldn’t help but think I got the timing here all wrong: when I imagined having kids here at this idyllic spot, this is what I had envisioned. I’ve since learned that a house in the middle of the woods may not have been the best choice for life with a newborn.

(*Stay tuned for more on this! Including the recipe for the much-requested pumpkin streusel coffee cake, leftovers of which are currently side eye-ing me from a Ziploc bag a few feet to the right. 👀)

Of course, there are many benefits to being where we are with baby V now. It’s lovely to be surrounded by nature, to walk around with her outside and show her the trees and the sky, listen to the wind, the crickets, and the birds. But there is one major problem with our house, and it’s a much bigger problem that I could have ever foreseen without having had the experience of a life with a newborn yet, and that is that I cannot take baby V out for a stroller walk. We live up a very big hill, on a long and winding dirt road, and it’s just not possible. I can take her on a walk in her carrier, which I enjoy well enough, but she can be a bit less predictable; being thirty minutes from home when a baby has decided she no longer wants to be in her carrier is not an ideal scenario. (Thank god for white noise on Spotify.)

Maybe what I’ve grown most attached to is the house itself. Built in the early 1900s but refinished and updated, it’s the perfect mix of old and new; gorgeous and spacious and came partially furnished with pretty much exactly what we needed. It is the house where I became pregnant, went into labor, and now have raised our darling V in her earliest days. We even chose her middle name, Harlow, for its meaning “from the rocky hill.” There’s something magical about the property that you can feel when you arrive, and every day that I walk the perimeter of our property I wonder how I’ll ever leave.

Then it becomes dinnertime, and I am reminded of a few reasons; the first being a lack of food options. There are literally two restaurants in Garrison, one being fine dining on a golf course and the other a lovely spot on the Hudson that recently has decided they only want to offer takeout when they feel like it. There is one delivery option, and it is a shitty pizza place.

Also no Whole Foods or comparable grocery store nearby, which for me, a person who loves to cook, is a problem. Beyond this I am a person who tremendously enjoys a trip to a good grocery store (has to be a good one!); for me, it is an artist’s date.

We do, though, have a lovely farmers’ market, and a great butcher not unlike something you’d find in Brooklyn, a great cheese shop, wine shop, etc. Many of which reside in the cutest little local town with an actual Main Street that runs right down to the Hudson River. When my friend Erika was visiting recently, she said our town felt like something out of a Hallmark movie.

Building community where we are now is something I’ve been working on. Which shouldn’t be too hard, considering that just about every young couple we’ve met locally also moved to the area from (shocker) Brooklyn, many of them during the pandemic just like us. Just this week my local acupuncturist put in a call for me to a group of local women who are all either pregnant or with young babes. We all met at the local coffee shop in town, taking over the back patio with our bumps and strollers, and after spending a couple of hours gabbing over my ginger snap oat milk latte, I felt replenished. I have plans to go on a hike next week with another woman I’ve been set up with. My hope was to have a solid group of women in place before the winter starts, and right now all looks promising.

Except, now I am wondering if we will be here through the winter after all.

I’m writing to you now from my in-laws’ apartment in the city, where we’ve taken residence for the weekend while they were away. Just having been here for a couple of days, I have to say, it’s shocking how good it’s felt. It goes so far beyond the ability to push a stroller outside (which has, of course, been magnificent). No, what’s crazy is that when it comes to taking care of the baby, it’s as if somehow I have 10x more energy here. Which I’m guessing is because there’s so much more going on here for me. Like, if she starts fussing at home, everything feels heavier and more intense. But here, where my life feels so much more full, I can let stuff like that just roll off of me.

Yes, it’s been an absolute joy and so eye-opening to experience my life nearly as it was before (dare I say better!): meeting friends for brunch, shopping, running errands on a gorgeous fall day – all with baby V in tow! Not to mention it feels like she’s been thriving here; little strudel slept through the night for the first time last night, 8pm to nearly 6, probably because we overstimulated the hell out of her yesterday. But still!

And funny enough, so well-timed to my own epiphany, my husband has some things going on professionally that also has us considering moving back, which is something we’ve been discussing off and on since he started his company earlier this year. Him being a New Yorker (born in the city, raised on Long Island), he always felt he’d be pulled back, but lately our positions have reversed: he’s been feeling settled where we are now, used to the space and quiet, whereas I’ve been feeling more and more isolated with a small babe and itching to get back to the city.

Before all of this the plan was to buy a house in Westchester (if you’re not from around here this is a suburban area just outside of the city that has a little more going on than where we are now, in terms of food options, convenience, etc.) and while I will say, I was very attracted to the idea of finally getting to create my dream kitchen, it’s now feeling like we could end up in the city and maybe even raise our family here. Which is something we weren’t really thinking of, or I know Jared definitely wasn’t considering as he was wanting something that more closely mirrored the idyllic childhood he had in the suburbs of Long Island, one where you were free to roam the streets with your friends until the lamps came on and it was time to go home for dinner.

I don’t love the idea of “the ‘burbs” so much, not the kind where the houses are right next to one another at least; what I had in mind for Westchester were areas like Bedford or Katonah, where you could live on a sprawling property with privacy but still have access to a Whole Foods, at least a couple of decent restaurants, and the ability to push a stroller down the street.

Maybe that’s where we’ll end up eventually? Or will we make the dream happen, and do both city and a weekend house? What even is the dream, anyway? It’s so hard to predict how we will feel as Violet gets older but for right now, the city feels like where we’re supposed to be.

(Better get to filming my home tour soon, just in case… 💋)