Susan's Blog

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Feeling so restless. I have not felt this way in a long time. I am reading a book, Sweet Ruin by Cathi Hanauer, very good, very me. The main character describes a subway ride in New York, something I haven’t done in a few years:

It cheered me no end, all these different faces and bodies, all the thoughts and lives. I spotted a seat and lurched over, squishing between a plump woman in a red sari and a skinny old — man? woman? — holding bags of leafy vegetables. The train screeched forward, and I smelled bodies, sweat and perfume and hot dogs, saw ads for milk and vodka, a plea not to give to panhandlers, a number to call if you’ve been sexually abused. …The subway, with its blunt, no-bullshit beauty and ugliness. There was nothing like it in the suburbs. Absolutely nothing.

I want that!!! To be able to write like that and to be able to experience that. My mind starting racing forward, thinking, how can I get that, or some of that? In the fall I’ll be traveling to conferences again, which is exhilarating but not exactly what I’m talking about. I’m thinking more permanent. How I loved DC, from the hot, hot weather to the political electricity in the air. Maybe if I lived there I could work for the Special Olympics, or the Washington Post. I’ve certainly gotten nowhere with the Boston Globe.

But then, there’s the question of where would Ned work, where would Nat go to school? What if the school system is not as good? Would I be ruining his life? But what if it were better? The New Yorker actually wrote about one autism family’s experience with Montgomery County Schools, which were also in a lawsuit with a different SPED family, that went all the way to the Supreme Court. But I have a friend in Fairfax; maybe it’s better there?

Would Max and Ben hate me for making them move?

Or what about my lifelong fantasy, of living and working in New York? I’ve never done that. Is that never to be? Is that over? Is there no way I can accomplish that? How would I even begin figuring out where Nat could go to school in NYC (Manhattan or Brooklyn)? Where would Ned work?

There’s always Philly, where we went to school and fell in love. I have friends there, it’s affordable, and a city I love. But, again, where would Ned work that would be interesting to him? Where would I work? The Philly Inquirer? Not so much. Maybe Penn? The Writer’s House?

How do people decide to leave a part of the country? By the way, I’m only talking about leaving one part of the Northeast for another. I doubt I could live in the south, as beautiful as it is, or the vast midwest. Or California, God bless it. I’m still totally a Northeaster, just maybe not so much Boston anymore. We are so wedded to Boston, but sometimes, I want a divorce.


The boys have to be your biggest concern. Ned? Fer crying out loud, that guy is so talented that he could get a good paying software gig on a cattle ranch. I wouldn’t worry there.

Because I know quite a lot about this (my folks moved almost exactly as soon as I became comfortable anywhere), I know that your guilt will be far greater than their sorrow. My mother is still apologizing for moving me 25 years later.

That is not to say that the boys won’t be happy (or unhappy). Max is so wise beyond his years (sometimes I feel like I should email him for his sage advice) that he would thrive anywhere.

In the end, the timing of our move was entirely predicated on Matthew’s (our son) age. Any older that five, we decided, and his social structure will have been much more concrete and would make the move difficult.

— added by Andrew on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 8:57 am

Susan, I lived and worked in Fairfax County for 5 years and loved it. Washington DC is a great city and the surrounding inner suburbs are wonderful. Ned wouldn’t find any problems with finding a job. DC is a huge tech center, just as big as Boston’s, perhaps bigger because of all the government contractors. Nat would have a lot of educational opportunities.

I moved only because I wanted to be closer to family. The cost of living there is horrendous and the traffic is as well, (although it is tolerable if you live inside the beltway). One of the things I enjoyed most about DC was the diversity. Metro DC is really the world’s capital. In addition, the level of education there is the highest per capita in the country. It would be the rare circumstance that you would run into anyone in Fairfax that didn’t have at least a B.S. or B.A. I prefer McLean or Falls Church. If you have the $, Great Falls is nice too.

— added by not my blg on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 10:11 am

I can relate. I’ve been watching the check out lady at our Acme (one with the stange look in her eye and strange thing on her nose) and thinking how lucky she is to have a fun place to go everyday. I vote New York!!!!

— added by merle on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 7:31 pm

NYC is exciting but it’s hard to imagine making a home there… and I’m not even married or a mom yet. But, who knows?

In any case, it’s helped me recently to think “out of the box” about the place I’ve always lived… check this out for some fun ideas in and around the city that we already live in. 🙂

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 7:35 pm

All I get is vast?? Hehehe..I am sensing something from you. A yearning that I have been feeling for a while now is making me dream of Seattle, of that exact same subway frame of mind. I did that very thing on the public bus system and I met so many people. I was single then. I had no obligations, not even a job. I left Minnesota to support a girlfriend with something she was going through. I stayed for four months. The culture of a place can lure you. The dreams of something bigger, something more. I have to ask there something more? Is it really better there? Will you find this contentment you seek?

— added by mrs. gilb on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 7:37 pm

I live in Fairfax County and the school system is excellent for children with special needs. But it is pricey and traffic sucks, just like Alexander’s Daddy said. But he either hasn’t been back here in a loooong time or he doesn’t remember – McLean is right up there with Great Falls in the $$ department. Reston, Centreville, Vienna – very nice, manageable distance to DC, respectable. How would Max feel about moving? It’s easier when they’re Ben’s age and haven’t made really good friends yet.

— added by Wendy on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 8:03 pm

We’re considering moving back to NY (suburbia) after now 7 years in MA. When we brought it up for discussion, we both agreed that Kyle was the primary focus. With us just getting him settled in the public school we didn’t want to move him again. Our reason for moving is family – we want to be near them again.
And we’re worried about how the school will be for special needs – we have a wonderful school now and are afraid to leave it. But we have time to look into these things.

Just don’t do it blind :o)

— added by Jen on Monday, July 24, 2006 at 9:37 am

Sorry… not to be obtuse, but what exactly is driving you out of Boston? I get that you’re bored, but to seriously consider uprooting your family – not to mention forcing your husband to find a new job in a new city – I would have to imagine that there’s more to it than that. Has Ned also expressed discontent with your lives there? If so, then this is clearly a subject for serious consideration.

Or is this – like the flirtations you’ve mentioned in the past – another symptom of your own restlessness? Of the need to break out beyond the boundaries of how your life is currently defined, and explore other lives, other choices… something other than the everyday you’re experiencing now?

— added by TwoBusy on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 3:46 pm

Ohh, Two Busy you are a canny one! But don’t worry — in the end, Ned and I are a team, and we don’t do anything without lots and lots of discussion and fairness; it’s how our marriage has survived a lot of changes and tumult. Ned knows that I get these yearnings to split, and he helps me get some of that satisfied. For instance, today, he came home early so that I could spend a long day on Cape Cod! So we don’t really have to move, you see?

But — life is long, and you never know! I may ask Alexander’s Daddy for some input on the DC area. And my dear sister is near NYC, as well as my parents, and Ned’s family, so that is tempting, too.

— added by Susan Senator on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 6:39 pm

My sister is in DC and loves it. (She and her husband bought a house earlier this year. IN the city.)

I’m in Texas. I can make recommendations for and against 2 or 3 different school districts near Austin, but that’s worthless to you. 🙂 (The school district we used to live in isn’t doing well by its special needs kids, but the one we live in now, that we moved into before we realized Sam would need anything like that, is great right now.)

— added by Julia on Wednesday, July 26, 2006 at 9:34 pm

You forgot about Seattle and Portland on the West Coast! Pretty random comment, but I love your blog, been following for years. How’re you liking Brookline these days (I’ve never been)?

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 at 4:38 pm

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