I live in the Philadelphia suburbs. My son and his wife live in California.
Although Tom and Amy were born and raised here on the east coast, they run a successful start-up together and work from home. So they could choose to live anywhere.
Before they chose California, they were living in Baltimore.
It’s hard to argue with that choice.
When they first moved across the country, I wasn’t thrilled that they’d be so far away. They were less concerned. “When we have kids, you’ll want to move here too,” Tom assured me.
He knows me pretty well. I love kids, and I’m great with them. The happiest years of my life were when I was an at-home mom raising my son.
And I really love babies.
But I also love my life in the Philadelphia suburbs.
East Coast Life
Growing up in Detroit, I couldn’t wait to move to the east coast. I knew in my heart that was where I belonged. I saw myself living and writing in Manhattan, in a penthouse with a spectacular view of Central Park. And although I’ve had to make a few adjustments to that dream over the years, I‘m perfectly happy living near Philadelphia, visiting the Big Apple often, and writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times and Suddenly Senior.
At Tom’s age, though, I had my own California dream. After 4 years at the University of Chicago (Unofficial motto: “Where Fun Goes To Die“), I was more than ready for sunshine and good times. I moved to Palo Alto and got a job in an ice cream parlor. I loved the fabulous weather, the relaxed vibe, and the friendly, easy-going people. But relentlessly pleasant, feel-good California just didn’t feel like home to me.
Within a year, I was enrolled at Boston University Law School, happy to trade scooping ice cream for studying law. I‘ve lived on the east coast ever since.
California? Been there, done that. Not for me.
But grandchildren can be game-changers.
“Welcome to the world’s best club,” a friend commented on Facebook when I posted the first photo of myself, beaming, my baby grandson in my arms.
Tom and Amy have made it clear that they’d be happy for me to join them (and the world’s most adorable baby) in the Sunshine State.
I could be a Flying Grandma! The kind who lives across the country but reliably turns up for vacations, birthdays, piano recitals, soccer matches and major Jewish holidays.
Or I could relocate.
My own grandparents lived nearby when I was a kid, and I have great memories, not just of special occasions but of routine pleasures. Watching “Queen for a Day” on the sofa with Grandma Sadie. Playing checkers with Grandpa. My Grandma Libby, with spectacular patience, playing “War” with me for hours, games that, mysteriously, I always won.
My California grandson will have a stable home and loving parents. I’m sure he’ll get along just fine without my being there day-to-day, to play with him, snuggle with him, sing him goofy songs, and read him “If I Ran The Circus.”
But why should he have to?
It could be worse. The kids could live in Australia. Or Utah.
Even for the world’s most awesome grandbaby, I’m not sure I could relocate to Salt Lake City.
No Thanks California
California is a great place. But I’m a walker. I hate freeways, love sidewalks, and cherish my MOMA membership. And my edgy, urban friends. Not to mention my library job and my wonderful sister (and fellow transplanted Midwesterner) who lives here on the east coast too. (And with whom I share the world’s cutest Yorkie-poo.)
At 63, I finally know exactly who I am. A writer who lives and works in suburban Philadelphia and makes frequent trips to New York. And now that I’m Grandma Roz, I’ve easily expanded that definition to include frequent cross-country trips to enjoy Benji’s company.
“I know you,“ a friend says. “Every time you fly out to visit that grandchild, it’s going to get harder and harder to get back on the plane. One of these days, mark my word, you’re going to become a Californian.”
She could be right.
Happy National Grandparents Day!
Roz Warren, the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: LIBRARY HUMOR, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times.