Garden State (Monday Letter #6)

Hello friends. Quite a lot has happened since my last letter.

I first moved to Chicago a little over fifteen years ago, to start my BFA program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since then I’ve had seven jobs here, two relationships, one marriage, and thousands (millions?) of cups of coffee. Not to mention: Chicago is, and will always be, where our daughter was born.

Next month, we’re leaving. My wife and I are close to closing on a house in Maplewood, NJ, in the NYC suburbs, about 30 minutes from Penn Station by train.

Maplewood is one of those Jersey suburbs that's picked up a reputation as somewhere Brooklynites go when they decide to leave Brooklyn. At one of the open houses we went to, nearly everyone looking was from Brooklyn—including some neighbors who were there looking on behalf of friends still in Brooklyn.

The Morning News just published a piece about how suburbs and neighborhoods in various places around the world map to places in NYC; though the Jersey suburbs didn't rate paragraphs in the body of the piece, Maplewood, Montclair, and one other, less famous town were highlighted on the accompanying map. Maplewood, says the map, is like Brooklyn Heights.

Maplewood doesn't have nearly as many restaurants, cafes, and shops as real Brooklyn, but there are several good ones (and even a couple great ones) within walking distance of our new house, and the neighboring towns of Millburn and South Orange have tons of cute stuff that's bike-able or easily drivable. If we find ourselves really starved for great cuisine or shopping or culture, New York City is right there.

As to why we're moving, it's a long story that isn't very interesting. Ultimately, we just decided to. I've been here for fifteen years, and my wife has been here for ten, and we're ready for something new. (Chris Shiflett's move from Brooklyn to Boulder last year was, if not inspiration, then validation for our idea to move.)

The joke I like to make is that we decided to move to the suburbs, and we thought about moving to Chicago's suburbs, but we like New York's better.

A less glib reason is that my wife's brother's family—some of our favorite relatives—live about fifteen minutes from our new house in Summit, NJ. We've spent Christmas with them every year since 2011, which gave us a taste of the area before we even considered moving there. We're excited to live in a cute, small town with easy access to Manhattan, but we're most excited for our daughter to grow up with her uncle, aunt, and cousins nearby.

Buying a house is a strange, byzantine process. This is from a Slack chat with my friend and Typekit teammate Morgan Kelly:
It's been a rollercoaster, but we're almost to the end. If everything stays on track, we're due to close on June 10, then moving out on June 27—coincidentally, the 7th anniversary of me and Jody's first date. Almost all the paperwork is done. The movers are booked. I'm making lunch and dinner dates to see friends (not to mention favorite restaurants) before we leave.

Leaving Chicago is sad, but we're excited to begin some new adventures, and hopefully I'll get to see some of you on the East Coast a little more often.

Wish us luck.

- DD