6 min read

Last Days In New York

Photos from our farewell tour
Last Days In New York

As I alluded to in my last post, we are moving out of New York City this week.

We bought a house in Piermont, NY – a village of 2,500 people on the west side of the Hudson, about 30 miles north from our apartment in Brooklyn. We'll still be close to New York, but no longer immersed in it. Basically, we're moving to the suburbs – a well-worn path for families like ours.

For eight years we've lived on the same block in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. The first four years were in a tiny apartment above a pest control shop on Court Street, and when the pandemic hit we moved into a garden duplex around the corner to accommodate a second kid and work-from-home.

There's an antique shop called Yesterday's News on our block and a guy who works there named Craig. For eight years, I've walked past Craig while he polished his wares on the sidewalk, and we've had this interaction:

"Hey Craig."

"Hey Greg."

That's it! I know almost nothing else about Craig other than his name. But we've had that same brief interaction a few times a week for the last eight years – hundreds of times in total! That's not nothing!

I'm going to miss saying hey to Craig.

This is Ms. Diane, one of our many neighborhood crossing guards. Every morning Ms. Diane steps out into the crosswalk, 30 yards from her apartment, and protects families on their way to school. This photo is from Emma's first day in Kindergarten. By this point we already had a year of crossing under Ms. Diane's watch thanks to pre-k.

Five years ago I ran into Ms. Diane during a Memorial Day ceremony in Carroll Park. She was with her mom, who was sick. I snapped this picture, printed it out and gave Ms. Diane a framed copy.

A couple years later, this was the moment when Ms. Diane told Rachel that her mom had passed away.

Our conversations with Ms. Diane are frequent, but never last longer than it takes for the light to change. We've been having those conversations for eight years. Over that time, we've been through some shit together: parents passing away, kids being born and growing up, a pandemic. Those moments add up to something meaningful.

There's dozens, if not hundreds, of folks like that in our neighborhood: crossing guards, barbers, baristas, servers, store clerks, neighbors, parents at drop-off and pickup. I don't even know the names of many of these folks who I would, nonetheless, consider friends. But we have a non-trivial relationship that's grown through eight years of consistent, though perhaps brief, interactions.

It's a beautiful aspect of living in such a dense, pedestrian centric environment – all these opportunities for human interaction that you don't get when moving around in the bubble of a car. Those moments feel uniquely valuable in an era when people are increasingly isolated and interaction is increasingly digital. Those moments feel uniquely New York.

My friend Gabe refers to New York as "America's largest collection of small towns." Carroll Gardens feels like a small town. In fact, ever since the pandemic hit, and work-from home kicked in, it's felt less like, "we live in New York" and more like, "we live in Carroll Gardens with easy access to a few dozen other small towns."

We know it's time for us to move on, for a variety of reasons. We've deeply considered the problem of where to live for the next phase of our life, and I'm confident we're making the right decision based on the information we have and the options on the table. It's not by accident that we are moving to another small town. We're excited for what lies ahead. We're excited to invest in a new community. But all change involves loss, and I will deeply miss these uniquely New York moments.

The last few weeks we've been running around New York, checking things off our list, and saying our goodbyes. These were all taken on our farewell tour.