We have lived in sketchy-ish parts of Brooklyn for over 4 years now. There have been gunshots, rapists, murders close by, an influx of police officers on street corners to keep the peace. But I have never really felt threatened or scared by where we live. Early on, I know, I felt a somewhat protective halo emanating from the baby I was constantly wearing on my chest. Later, I think I may have become somewhat immune to any feelings of danger or trouble, or so consumed in taking care of Simon and Oliver that I didn’t really notice it. I have felt somewhat stigmatized at times knowing that so many of our friends live in “safer” neighborhoods, and that many of them might not come to visit us because they don’t feel safe where we are, or that it is just too far away from them and too difficult to get here.
All of that has never really bothered me much. I think our neighborhood is just fine. It may not be the nicest, but I’ve never been someone who needs the nicest of anything. It may be a little bit sketchy, but perhaps that appeals to my sense of adventure. And living here has been fairly easy on our pocketbook as well, allowing us to save money and pay off our student loans quickly.
But in the past few months I’ve started to feel a little bit differently. Our neighborhood’s reputation has started to bother me. I’ve thought that maybe it would be nice to live somewhere where people don’t think the world is their garbage can. News stories regarding violence close by has troubled me more than in the past. While I still enjoy the diversity of the neighborhood, I am also feeling ready to move on. We need to live closer to more people like us. The boys need more playmates. I need more accessible friendships. We need to fit in a little bit better.
Perhaps I am thinking this way because we have begun the school-search process and we are planning to move in a few months anyway — still in Brooklyn, still in our ward, just to a place that has better schools. Knowing that another change is just around the corner has got me changing my perspective on what we have now. And some of it is probably because the boys, especially Simon, are much more outward-looking and don’t need my attention as constantly as they have in the past, so I am free to look around me more than I have been in the past. Having lived in this area for so long, I am a little wary of moving to a nicer area, where there are a lot more kids and the levels of anxiety about achievement and germs and helicoptering and organic, whole, pure foods are (in my opinion) somewhat ridiculous. I feel a little bit like we are abandoning ship when maybe we should be helping to keep it afloat.
I’m grateful we’ve been able to live here and I’m hopeful we’ll find a place — both an apartment and a neighborhood — that is better suited to us.