Friday, December 20, 2013

ENCORE: A Spanking New Life Chapter

In the immortal words of Peter Brady, “When it’s time to change, you’ve got to rearrange.” And so, after 18 years of living in New York City, I am leaving the metropolis to launch the next chapter of my life. Yup, it’s a tough decision, but the result of two years of careful consideration.

Over 10 days in September, I shared on Facebook: “10 Reasons It’s Time To Leave NYC," and now offer an encore, with all the goods packed into one post...

#1: I miss driving. I miss outdoor space. I miss spreading my arms without hitting a wall. I dream about a gentler quality of life...

#2: NYC is a city of dreams. I’ve had a wondrous, indelible, fulfilling, rewarding, spirited chapter here, and I lived out my lifetime ambition at Billboard magazine to the fullest. Now let’s make room for somebody else’s dream.

#3: Dogs were designed by god to run with the wind, not trail behind on a leash sniffing cement. Offering my Abby & Spencer freedom to roam fills me with glee.

#4: All I need to write are a keyboard and my fingers. I have the great fortune of a portable talent.

#5: I’m 51. I came to New York at 34. Alas, no longer do I desire to carouse the East Village until 3 a.m. NYC is a playground for the younger. Growing older in New York is unquestionable for many. But I have options and freedom… let’s see what's behind Door No. 3.

#6: After fastidiously paying off the mortgage for my Brooklyn Heights apartment in eight years, shelling out a monthly $1,100 “coop maintenance fee” for the privilege of living in a building (albeit, beautiful) with 30 other families is madness… & maddening. Enough, already.

#7: When guiding a lawnmower—and driving a car—sound more appealing than riding the subway, I’m thinking it’s time to turn the page.

#8: When I was in my 20s, a friend said, “Some people are lucky. It’s an energy. They have an inherent ability to generate good things for themselves. You are one of those people.” Over the past four years, I haven’t felt lucky. It’s time to reignite that force field—with the challenge of a new adventure.

#9: In Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free To Wear Sunscreen,” there’s a line, “Live in New York once, but leave before it makes you hard.” OK, I still choke up when I listen to Celine, I giggle when the doggies yawn & I swoon over a Brooklyn Heights sunset… but let’s not risk it, y'know? I want to leave New York while I still love it.

And now… THE REVEAL! In October 1995, I came to NYC for my life-long dream job at Billboard magazine—rewarded with a stupendous career, committed friendships, a 10-year marriage and an apartment in a majestic nabe. But over the past couple years—as a single freelancer hustling for every dime in a $$$$ city—I felt the itch for change.

First order of business: Can you leave the world’s greatest city without wincing? Reflecting on my 20s/early 30s in beloved DC, I concluded that yup, a new locale offers opportunity for spanking new adventures… But, uh, where?

My checklist: warmth, water, s-p-a-c-e, grass, a car(!), a job(?)... and a gentler quality of life. After months poring over real estate listings in Las Vegas, Phoenix, St. Petersburg, Austin, on & on, I found my next promised land.

If the puzzle pieces snap into place, in 1Q 2014, I shall relocate to HAMPTON ROADS, VA., comprising Virginia Beach & Norfolk. My Brooklyn Heights apartment thankfully has sold. I now await the processing of contracts & piles of legal hoo-haw. Meanwhile, I have had the great fortune of finding—and buying—my dream home in Norfolk.

This mid-century modern property was built in 1962, faces 400-acre Lake Whitehurst, offers a generous yard for Abby & Spencer to run & roam—and as my Virginia realtor Katie Zarpas squealed, “This is the ultimate bachelor pad!” Think “Mad Men.”

It wasn’t a requirement of relocating, but as a bonus, I have 15-year dear pals in Virginia Beach: Mary & Bill and Francie are just down the road.

I hope to see youse at the First Annual Hampton Roads Housewarming Party! Y’all come see me, you hear? Thanks for reading.

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