By Alice Bradley
Three years ago, my family and I moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey. I hated it here. I thought I was going to die. Henry hated it, as well. He told me he thought his heart was going to blow up. Scott was too busy commuting on the weekdays and mowing on the weekends to have strong feelings about it, but when pressed, he admitted that he preferred the city, as well.
For that first year, I cried every day. Henry cried every other day. I think I saw Scott tear up a couple of times. That might have been from seasonal allergies, though. But occasionally, when I wasn’t crying, I had pockets of time that were less painful. Even enjoyable. Spring came, and summer, and Henry splashed around in the kiddy pool while I chatted with the neighbors over the fence. We made friends who invited us to even nicer pools than our inflatable one out back, and we made mojitos and sat on the porch, and I thought, well, this is fine. Then I cried some more. But over time I had to admit that I kind of liked it here.
Two years ago, Isabel invited me to write for Alphamom, and I happily accepted. But after a couple of columns, I decided I was in way over my head. Where did I get off, writing about current events? What did I know? Who ever told me I could write about anything going on outside my living room? I didn’t think I was smart enough, frankly. I was sure I wasn’t smart enough, and that some expert was going to come along and rip me to shreds. Maybe a whole team of experts. I told Isabel I should probably write about something I was more qualified to address, like narcissism, or fine cheeses. But Isabel encouraged and prodded and encouraged some more, and somehow I managed to write and keep writing.
I wrote about evil breastfeeding devils and instructive gifts for girls and health insurance. I heard from smart and passionate readers who cared enough to respond to my feeble jokes and occasional attempts at sincerity. (I also heard from a few humorless types who didn’t appreciate my skillful use of irony–but no matter.) I actually felt like I knew what I was doing.
One year ago Scott and I realized that although we’ve come to appreciate so much about our new neighborhood, it never felt like we were home. We missed Brooklyn, and the family and friends we had left behind. Although we were only a short commute away, we wanted to be right in the middle of things, complaining about the noise and the soot and the obnoxious neighbors. What can I say? We’re natural gripers. It’s too quiet and polite here. So we started the long and sometimes painful slog toward selling our place, and we told our now-beloved friends and neighbors that we’d be returning to the other side of the river.
So: here I am, in the present day, and you’re there, wondering what in hell Wonderland and my imminent move back to Brooklyn have to do with each other. Well, there are going to be changes around here as well as in the rest of my life. This will be my last column for Wonderland. I’ve got too many projects on my plate, and too little time. And while I’m paring down our possessions, I also need to pare down my responsibilities and focus on the next big thing. Whatever that next big thing might be.
It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to New Jersey, and it’s hard to say goodbye to Wonderland. I am deeply grateful to Alphamom, and Isabel, and to the faithful readers who brought so much to the conversation. Thank you so much. And think of me while I’m packing boxes.