I wrote this a week ago, but in light of the last week’s events, I felt it was a bit on the light side to post. So if you do the math, the movers arrive this morning.
Experiment doesn’t sound as permanent as move. Despite the fact as I write this, I am surrounded by boxes filled with three-quarters of our belongings.
A week from Monday people will come and transport everything from coffee machines to our dead dog’s ashes to LA. Where despite the fact I have gleefully escaped said city four times in my life – six weeks ago I impulsively rented a house there.
It sounds random and sort of foolish. But it is something we have been thinking about for a few years.
It’s not like I just woke up mid pandemic and said, I want “swimming pools and movie stars.” Though I hear many have.
I am from there. While this New York is home and has been for half my life, both my parents are still in California. Albeit not in very good condition.
I have been lucky over the years as my work made it possible for me to be there at least every six weeks. And then when my parents started failing, I continued to go out every six to eight weeks. For most of my adult life, the LA- NY early morning flight has been like a commute for me.
And then two years ago Taylor moved out there and my whole relationship with LA changed. I continued to go out, only more.
Then came the pandemic and suddenly I couldn’t hop on a plane if there was an emergency or a birthday or I just wanted to check-in.
Suddenly NYC, a city I have been falling out of love with became a nightmare to live in. If you call living, being stuck in an apt and only going out to grab a coffee or walk the dog.
At the same time, our house in Sag Harbor that has been on the market for a few years as we were unsure what to do with it, overnight became a very hot rental property as others were fleeing t NY only to slightly closer shores.
Though we have never rented it the money was too good to pass up.
So, when I put all those various ingredients into the blender called my brain, the smoothie that emerged was to get a place in LA. So, I did.
It seemed smart and foolish at the same time. But I found many ways to justify it.
I remembered the fourteen-degree winter mornings I would leave here and arrive in a seventy degree LA five hours later. Taylor and I would be sitting outside at Alfred’s having coffee and I would email Glenn wish you were here; you’d be sitting by a pool smoking a cigar. He emailed back I wish I were too.
Since Glenn had been locked out of his office for almost three months and was running his life from his home office. It didn’t feel as impulsive.
The pieces sort of fell into place and those that didn’t, in true me fashion, I shoved them there.
So, it was set, we would rent in LA. And at some point, when things have calmed down Glenn would open an office there and keep a small one here.
Then we would sell Sag Harbor as so many are leaving NYC.
Then maybe buy a house in LA and… and then…then it got murky…rent a very small place in NY as by then LA would have gotten to me, as it always does, and I would need a week a month here. I start out loving LA and then long for New York.
Once there is a vaccine, and life returns to something that resembles what we knew, we could mix it up.
Glenn needs to be here for work, I need to be here for life. So once we can be on planes a lot again, we would do the reverse of what I have been doing solo or decades.
I would be lying if there has been a day when at least three hours are not spent questioning my decisions. Pondering the efficacy of this big life change. Giving up the East for the West. As I said, I have done it four times in my life and I always return here.
Sure, things have changed somewhat, now I have a grown daughter making her life out there.
I have two parents who are at a stage where time is not on anyone’s side.
But I love the fall. I love winter. Until about March.
I love walking down Madison Ave. Or I did when it actually had stores and restaurants open. I love museums. But will I with social distancing and long lines. I love restaurants, but what happens with the new rules?
But what happens when it goes back to the old New York. Will I want to return? Am I being a fair friend New Yorker leaving when it’s down on its luck?
But I can’t go months or maybe ever without seeing my parents. And I hate not having the freedom to see Taylor.
Of all of us, Lucy is the safest to travel. Yet her school might not even open. What happens to Lucy in all this?
WHAT AM I DOING?
But Glenn who is truly making a big sacrifice on my projected needs, said we need to move forward. We need to just do something bold.
And then there was that damn pandemic. What if it does come back in the fall in a big way? What if I can’t get out to California for months again? And even if I fly out there, I have to self-quarantine before I see my parents as I will have flown. So suddenly a ten-day trip turns into a month.
No, we are doing the right thing. This is pretty much the same discussion Glenn and I had every morning over coffee. Or I have it with myself and he nods to appease me.
So that’s it, we give up everything back here for now. Glenn comes back for work. I come sometimes. It is a good plan. Maybe. I’m not sure.
And then we spent two weeks in Sag Harbor, which is the home I have lived in the longest. The home where the best days of my life have been spent. The home my kids love more than anywhere. It’s in a perfect little town we are a part of. And clearly it has a lot going for it or everyone who can would not suddenly be trying to get a place there.
On the last morning of our stay there, after packing up all our stuff so the renters would have our closets, we walked into town. We said you know this may be our last walk. If we sell it over the summer, and we can’t fly back, someone will move us out and that will be it.
Suddenly the trees were greener, the air was more familiar and comforting, the old Whaler vibe more charming than ever.
We passed the beautiful old Church that the artist Eric Fischl and his wife April Gornik have lovingly restored to perfection after several others made attempts and failed.
We stopped to socially distance say hello and tell him how great it was. And he said it was wonderful too. Then said, “well, you guys will see it.”
After he rode away on his bike, we looked at each other, I burst into tears and said we can’t give up this town. I have to see Eric’s Church.
Look, I know in the big picture right now, these are really high-class problems. I know. I feel badly when I reread it. One hundred and three thousand are dead. I have been far too many online Memorials in the last three months.
The streets of America have been burning for the last four nights in protest of yet another brutal police murder of an innocent black man.
The fabric of our lives, and of the lives of most Americans has been ripped and shredded-and I am worrying about what pricey town to live in.
I say that as I never want to sound insensitive. But I do have people I care about who are melting. I do love my daughter and can’t bear the fact that due to the pandemic I haven’t seen her for months. My life, like all our lives, is being impacted by this pandemic as is the city I call home. Whatever city that is.
Change is hard and when it comes to it sometimes the easiest thing to do is to stay put.
But our house is rented at least for the summer. Thank god, not sold. House in LA rented for a year. Deal closed. Notice is given on NY apartment.
“But I can’t move I sobbed” to Glenn. “So, we are not moving,” he said. “We are experimenting.”
Suddenly, it was OK. The experiment is a trial. Trials often have limited runs or at least allow you to have the information you need to make the next more permeant move.
We knew we did not want to sit out the pandemic year in New York City for all the reasons I have listed. We knew we didn’t want to give up Sag, but renting it allowed us to cover the costs and still allow us nine months a year to go there.
We knew after a year or two in LA we would know if it is somewhere we want to plant deeper roots or just condo it to see the grandkids. We knew after a year Glenn would know which city was better for his business to be headquartered out of. We knew we needed time for the country to get safer and to experiment with some different lifestyle options.
We knew that unlike so many people we did have options. And we were lucky.
So, as it stands today, we will live for at least two years in LA much of the time. Though we will keep Sag Harbor and come back and spend a month here and there. And instead of those exotic holiday trips, for the time being, Christmas will be spent in the crispy cold of the East. I will keep my coats and sweaters and scarves and wear them when I walk into town and pass April and Eric’s Church, which is actually going to be a fine arts school.
We will spend time in the city and more as the world opens up.
We are moving forward and experimenting in this most difficult of times. And for the moment, that does feel like the right thing to do. I think.
I do hope the dogs get used to flying.