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Saturday, February 9, 2008

It Takes A Village

Sky Hotel, Aspen
Photos by myself in Aspen, in the funky lobby of the Sky Hotel.

Studded leather and some sort of pelt adorns the front desk. This lobby is always hopping.


Today I got to spend some time with my brother, a corporate lawyer, who now lives in LA. He works with banks and large companies to structure contracts and transactions. My brother lived on Wall Street a few years and doesn't miss New York at all.

'Life is hard in New York,' he tells me every time we see each other. To him, it's the subways and the long hours. Why not have a healthy lifestyle and nice weather all the time?

I often think the opposite, that New York life is easy, and that New Yorkers are a breed of human that refuses to grow up. They don't have to deal with buying a place, cleaning gutters or shoveling snow. They can live in a perpetual playland, if they want to.

Take my coworker and her husband, who came with me on the Aspen leg of my trip. They rent in Battery Park City, after living in White Plains.

'How about Brooklyn?' I'd suggested to the husband. 'You get twice as much space as Manhattan, and there are a lot of great restaurants now. It's not like it was a few years ago.'

'Well, we love Battery Park City. There's the park, and there's the water.' Then he added, 'Having a kid in New York isn't so hard. Everyone comes to you.'

Yes, that's true, but your combined income has to be a certain amount to afford such luxuries. He and his wife have a nanny who visits every day, so that both parents can work. They own a car, and he makes the reverse commute to Jersey for his job. Presumably, too, they park the car in a garage.

My cousin and her husband, on the other hand, live in Chicago. They also have a babysitter who visits daily to care for their 10-month old. They own a townhouse on Chicago's South Side.

These families are the lucky ones. I think it's the story of many couples in New York and other major cities. Their lifestyles sound nice. Their kids were planned. But what happens when life doesn't go according to plan?

What if you're a single parent? What if you're struggling to make ends meet? Your view of the world would be very different from 'everyone coming to you'.

My mom recounted life when I'd been born. My father was studying for his PhD. His monthly stipend was $400 a month. Rent was $350 a month. Fortunately, my grandparents moved in to help with my brother and me, so my mom could go to work.

It certainly does take a village to raise a child. Some villages are just fancier than others.


Ming the Merciless said...

It takes a certain type of person or mindset to live in NYC. I know a lot of people who would not survive the grind here but I also know a lot of people who flourish here.

roentarre said...

What a wonderful protrait! The setting brings out the mood very well

Reluctant Blogger said...

I have to say that I always felt I had the most freedom when I lived in London. It was impossible to buy a house, stupid to run a car, daft to have children - so I was free from pressure to do anything except enjoy myself. Wonderful. And I love the buzz of living in a big city - the feeling of energy. It's almost as good as sunshine!

Kitty said...

Ming, welcome!
I agree completely. NYC is certainly not for everyone. But certain strains of people do love it and you'd have to pry them loose. It's that kind of place.

Roentarre, thank you!
and thanks for visiting. I'll have to check out both your blogs.

Hallo, RB!
London sounds amazing. I think it's a beautiful city. You're lucky to have lived there.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty, you are right, NY is an adult playground where you don't really need to grow up. I realise this every time I date ;-)

I think it takes a lot of money to raise kids in New York without a support network. I saw first hand how much my sister relied on family when she and her husband had my nephew. It would be tough to go it alone. Fish x

Tammy said...

I have a sister who is now a single parent with 3 kids and I have no idea who she does it. I can't even imagine doing it in a city like New York on a waitress salary.

Kitty said...

hey Fish!
Dating in NY is tough because there are no rules. People can be terrible because they think it's a big enough town that they won't run into you again.

I guess these questions about child-raising are pretty basic, but I never *really* thought about them until talking with my cousin. The couple really has to function like a team, or it all falls apart.

Hey Tammy!
Wow about your sister. I bet it's impossible when the kids are little, but easier when they can at least walk around?

Still, it has to be so tough. I don't think I could do it.