Everyone knows how much Smartmom hates it when friends move away. Not only does it induce major separation anxiety, but it also throws her into a neurotic tizzy about the choices she’s made in life.
Such was the case last spring when Smartmom found out that her friends, Ay and Eye, were planning a big move to a small town in Canada. Smartmom wanted to know all the details but especially WHY.
Why would they want to leave this nirvana known as Park Slope?
Why would they want to leave their gorgeous brownstone on Third Street?
Why would they want their son to attend fifth grade anywhere other than PS 321?
Why would they want to part with their tight-knit klatch of Third Street stoop neighbors?
Ay and Eye calmly explained that they’d simply fallen in love with this Canadian town, which is both a summer and winter resort. The elementary and middle schools are walking distance from their new Victorian home. There’s a great independent bookstore, a vegan restaurant and a coffee bar. Perhaps best of all, Canada has free universal health insurance and they won’t have to go through the agony of applying to public middle school.
Well, it all made sense. Sort of.
And Smartmom admired them for being brave. Moving to a new place without friends and family was a hard thing to do and Smartmom was impressed, even envious. Smartmom has always fantasized about moving to an exotic locale far from her family (just kidding).
Still it was hard to swallow. Ay and Eye are iconic Park Slopers. Smart, politically progressive, vegan, well-read, community oriented, neighborly and fun to talk to. How would they live without everything that Park Slope had to offer? How could they walk away from one of the best neighborhoods in the world? (How could they live with such good old American hyperbole?)
Smartmom pretended to be really excited for them. She oohed and ahhed when they showed her a picture of their beautiful new house and the cute Main Street in their new town. But inside she felt empty, sad, and a little bit confused.
Later, Smartmom called Gluten Free, who moved to a big Victorian upstate five years ago.
Gluten Free said she knew very well why someone might leave Park Slope for greener pastures. She’d found it in the bucolic Hudson Valley where her family was able to afford lots of square footage, a beautiful backyard, nature nearby and an artsy, small-town atmosphere.
Smartmom was a basket case when Gluten Free, Dadu and their kids up and left. Deep down, she was deeply hurt that they could abandon her. The thing was: Smartmom and Hepcat were losing two of their best friends.
Over time, Smartmom and Gluten Free adjusted to their long-distance relationship. They now talk on the phone many times a week — often when Smartmom is walking down Seventh Avenue. Smartmom, Hepcat and family are regular guests in the guest room of their super-sized Kingston home. And Gluten Free and family are regulars in Smartmom’s small (and, thanks to Hepcat, shrinking) living room.
Last week, Ay and Eye had an informal going away party in the living and dining room of their palatial brownstone. As Smartmom walked up their stoop, she wondered how it was possible to walk away from all this — even if it did mean free health care.
The party itself was a scene right out of a promotional video for a Fourth Avenue condo. Interesting looking friends and neighbors wandered in and out. Rotisserie chicken from Union Market, chocolate cake from Sweet Melissa’s, fresh fruit, cheese and wine, the table was a regular smorgasbord of Slope cuisine.
Smartmom dreaded the good-bye. She wasn’t sure what to say. She thought she might cry. After all, she’d known the two of them before they were married; before their two children were born; before they’d bought their brownstone; back when they lived on the fourth floor of Smartmom’s apartment building.
Smartmom felt a deep surge of regret. Why hadn’t they done this more often? In the hustle and bustle of Park Slope life, they’d had plenty of sidewalk conversations, but hadn’t been to a party together in years.
As Smartmom and Hepcat readied to leave, Eye came over and gave Smartmom a hug.
“We’re having another party for everyone who couldn’t make it to this one and for everyone who wants to come again…”
Smartmom was relieved. She’d have one more chance to experience the neurotic mix of emotions she was going through. One more chance to dread the good-bye. One more chance to savor time with these wonderful people she’s proud to call her friends.
Louise Crawford also writes “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn,” a Web site.