Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Hunt

Early this morning, the four of us set out in the car for more explorations of possible places to live. On the agenda today: Mamaroneck, Rye, and Port Chester, in New York; and Darien, Rowayton, and Cos Cob in Connecticut. The outstanding school districts in both areas are extremely appealing, the commute humane, the taxes much more palatable than New Jersey. We expected our trip today to shake up our top new-home choices.

But despite our enthusiasm going in, we were surprised to find that we didn’t much like Mamaroneck. There were some beautiful homes, but it seemed remote—and, in an odd way, there was a malaise hovering over the town. I didn’t see a cozy suburban life there—I saw isolation. Perhaps the gloomy day had something to do with it, but neither of us could quite imagine ourselves being happy there. Same for Port Chester. We felt differently in Rye: a really cute downtown, beautiful homes. It seemed livelier somehow; and we could better imagine a home there.

It became clear very quickly that we can’t afford to live in Darien, and probably not Cos Cob. We might not be able to afford Rowayton, either, but we hope we can—this was a really cute place, right on the water, a charming little town that conjured images of fireplaces and cozy evenings at home, hunkered down against the weather.

It was a very educational trip. These explorations really are helping us shape our search, even when we don’t go to any open houses.

The girls both did splendidly in the car. It was a long day—we left around 9:30am and didn’t get home till around 4:30pm—but there was nary a fuss. Greta slept most of the time in the car, and Lucia kept up an amusing monologue. We stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s in Mamaroneck—possibly the longest McDonald’s stint ever, between running out to the car for things, changing diapers, nursing, everyone ordering and eating, etc etc etc—but Lucia enjoyed her French fries and two chicken McNuggets and the toy from her Happy Meal. Greta spit up down the neck of my sweater, but she was still cute. We stopped at a second McDonald’s in Cos Cob before heading home so Greta could nurse and Lucia could have some ice cream. (Really, is there a better place for a toddler? Junk food, a booth to stand up in, no one around to care if she runs around.)

Lucia’s monologue truly was hilarious; at times it seemed she was just saying words she knew, calling up pieces of her vocabulary in free-association fashion:

“Snowman. Santa. [high, tiny voice:] Tiny snowman! Tiny Santa! I taking a shower. I wash face. Lots of soap. Mama, wash face. Dada, wash face. Shoes off. Wash back. Mama, wash back. Dada, wash back. Holly bush! Open it. Fish. Ice cream. Cheddar bunnies? Chocolate bunnies? I need wa-wa. Stinky diaper. Out. Out. Up. No. Playground! Playground! Park! Home see Bibi. I have paw-paw. Uh-oh—I drop tiny ball. Greta sleeping. Greta awake! Greta has paw-paw. Snack? Cake! Cake!”

A successful trip.

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