When I was in college, I couldn’t wait to move to Manhattan. I had romantic visions of penning a deep, existential novel in a dimly lit coffee shop, inspired by the lofty aromas of freedom and mocha. Of elegant nights hosting happy hour in my tastefully decorated apartment. Of busy nightclubs filled with pulsating rhythms and the next love of my life.
After moving to the city I quickly discovered that I couldn’t afford my local coffee shop, my apartment was too small for entertaining, and, as for the love of my life, well, I did meet him, although not at a crowded nightclub. Together we did city things — going to exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art, strolling through Central Park, meeting friends at parties. But when we decided to take the next step in our lives, having kids, we knew it was time to leave. And yet, even with our new zip code 30 miles outside the city, we still considered ourselves city people. It was a badge of honor we had earned through years of inflated rent and zero personal space. No one could take it away.
Well, it’s been five years, and my city “street cred” has lost its luster. Last weekend, I headed into the city for a friend’s party. As I walked the once-familiar streets, the truth hit me: somewhere along the way, I had transformed from city girl to suburban mom. If you’re a fellow resident of the ‘burbs, here are 10 signs that you no longer quite fit into the big city:
1. You spend 20 minutes debating your spouse about the best subway to get to that restaurant downtown — only to discover you’re both wrong and the subway line you’re arguing about stopped running three years ago.
2. You walk by a gentlemen’s club and wonder how in the world those girls can do what they do — and by that, I mean stay up past eleven on a weeknight.
3. Getting ready, you put on a pair of sensible flats because the idea of trekking around the city in heels makes you want to curl up in bed and watch the latest episode of Orange Is the New Black. You then take off your flats, curl up in bed, and watch the latest episode of Orange Is the New Black.
4. You’ve forgotten how to jaywalk.
5. Having bequeathed all your purses to your 5-year-old daughter, you show up to a formal art gallery reception toting a diaper bag covered in green frogs and what you hope are apple juice stains.
6. You’re super excited to take your family to your former favorite sushi spot — only to discover that for the past 5 years it’s been a Chase Bank.
7. The idea of someone serving you pizza after midnight no longer seems like your divine right. In fact, it seems a bit ridiculous — don’t these people have families to get home to?
8. You find yourself complaining to anyone who’ll listen how oppressively congested this place is — except, instead of listening, people are looking at you like you’re a ranting madwoman who’s secretly trying to steal their iPhone 6.
9. You’re no longer cool with having to arrive at a movie theater an hour before the movie begins to get a seat. (After all, what are you supposed to do with the pint of ice cream you’ve smuggled in your diaper bag?)
10. You and your spouse can’t stop telling everyone you meet how you’ve hired a babysitter and how “the city can’t even handle you right now.” Until around 11 o’clock that is, when it’s time to go home, pay the sitter, and drift off to the sweet sounds of crickets.
Indeed, my days of aimlessly wandering the city streets have come to an end. These days, when I venture into the city I once called home, I’m keenly aware it’s as a visitor. And that’s fine by me. I enjoy driving my kids to local parks that stretch for miles with barely a footprint to cross our own. I relish the quiet of my street during the day. I don’t miss the life I once led . . . even if it did involve pizza at one in the morning.
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