Aside from the birth of my second daughter, last year was not one I wish to repeat. We moved from the city and a condo we owned and loved into a rental in the suburbs. Uninspired and overwhelmed, we were quick to take recommendations for everything from pre-school to places to eat doing very little exploration on our own. I was constantly going into the city for the familiar and I often felt like the kid who graduated from high school, who returned mid-week in October. People in the neighborhood were happy to see me, but kept asking me why I was there.
At the end of this summer Sophie went to one week of soccer camp, and while camp was a complete bust, something shifted in my suburban experience. I started to meet some really kind, friendly people. They told me about the Cynwyd Heritage Trail which I took Sophie to the very next day. And when I did, I discovered the Cynwyd Station Cafe where they have ice cream. Real ice cream! No frozen yogurt! The owner, Sadie, has created a great vibe there that is inviting and unique. Sophie also started at The Gateway School. She absolutely loves it and was actually upset that the weekend meant she could not go. Even the drive to school is more calming than last year’s destination. I changed up my run/walk direction and discovered that right across a street at the end of mine is a camouflaged path leading to one of the most serene parks I’ve been to around here. I finally gave in and joined a gym where I’m meeting people as well and hoping to play a bit of tennis. I still prefer being outside or smaller studio workouts, but this place has babysitting and, in this moment in life, it’s the only way I’m going to go when the weather gets colder. Just like when we were in Puglia, there are compromises to be made, but setting different expectations makes it palpable – and even enjoyable.
I still go into town for work and for fun – especially to eat – and as often, really, as I did last year. Only now the smell of desperation to be back isn’t as strong.