Sunday, January 01, 2012

Moving Ahead in 2012

It's been quiet over here at Autism's Edges. At the blog, that is. In our lives it has been a bit noisier than usual this past three months because of our relative proximity to Zuccotti Park. It's about 12 blocks to the south, so we're between the former occupation site and other useful sites for protest: Washington Square Park, New York University, the New School, and Union Square.

October 8, 2011: Our girl checks out the mounted
police horses staging at La Guardia.  The story of what
the mounties did when she tried to feed the horse will be
saved for another day. (File under "over-reaction.")
Often, even now as I type, NYPD helicopters hover overhead to track the movements of the Occupiers. Sometimes the drone starts early in the morning, sometimes it continues into the wee hours of the morning, and sometimes it extends from morning to night, as happened last night when the occupiers returned to Zuccotti Park. When I fell asleep at four I could still hear the sounds of sirens and helicopters.

Two weekends back, on the day we were setting up our Christmas tree, the lot two blocks away, owned by the Episcopalian church, was the site of an action. A former bishop was arrested climbing over a fence to lead the occupiers to land — an open lot, a potential commons – that he and countless others argue a Christian church should share rather than enclose behind eight foot fences.

Sometimes we hear some commotion outside and look out the bedroom window to see protesters running down Sixth Avenue against the traffic and police mounted on their motorcycles weaving between cars to pursuit, trying to head them off, corral them.

This fall has been a tumultuous one in our small corner of the world, close, as it is, to the epicenter of the captains of commerce and consciousness. Our friends who live uptown are surprised when we tell them about these eruptions of civil disobedience and police actions. Apparently uptown there is no disturbance.

November 17, 2011: View from our window -- the
Occupiers marching south, the traffic stopped. And the
empty lots that may reshape our view.
Our girl takes it in stride. She is disposed to favor the Occupation.  The fact that they are reading about the Gilded Age and the rise of the Progressive movement in her history class also helps. But her response to seeing protesters marching down Sixth Avenue blocking the traffic was simple, some might say "rule bound": they shouldn't so that – they are blocking traffic.

We have not entertained any higher order discussion of the role of civil disobedience in political change or the intuition of the framers of the Constitution that democracy requires that citizens be ever vigilant of an overreaching government.  We're simpler than that at Autism's Edges.

What we have done is think about moving. I think about it nearly every day. We have lived here, in this apartment, for more than twenty years. Our lives are installed here – with built-in bookshelves and loft beds and handmade counters that her father lovingly created back in the days when he had a studio. (Or as my favorite West Village folk singers put it more lyrically: back before the airplanes came and took the buildings down.) Tearing away from this place feels as though it will be almost as heartbreaking as those days were, with their smoke and dust and airborne sorrow.

We'd be leaving the neighbors that we run into on the sidewalks from time to time and compare notes about our kids.  We'd no longer live across the park from the place where our girl learned to walk.  We'd leave behind the sights of our past: the Children's Aid Nursery school building where a seasoned teacher first told us that she ought to be evaluated for language delays (we wouldn't have known as it was all so subtle and we were oh-so-very-clueless). And leave behind the corner green market where the Kim's know us and ask about our girl when she's not in tow. We'd leave behind the short walk to the Hudson River where we gave our girl's first goldfish, Sparky, a solemn burial at sea one frozen winter afternoon.

Leaving here, this place we have loved, feels as though it will be less like pulling up roots – the typical metaphor for a move of this sort – than like pulling off a scab: we have grown into the wonderous-ness and wounded-ness of this place that is downtown and the place has grown into our own cuts and scrapes.

Still, I am feeling that it may be time to move. The vacant lots next to our building – the ones just outside our living room and bedroom windows – were sold last year to a development company from Texas.  They paid $17 million dollars, so I'm guessing they have the money to build the fifteen story building that local zoning would allow. When they build, our only view of sky, trees, and avenue will be gone, as will all of our natural light.  I can see this coming, I just don't know quite how long we have until they break ground and the rumble of helicopters and motorcycles policing the occupation will become the background for din of construction.

So as 2011 comes to a close and 2012 unfolds, I wonder where we will be next year, not in some metaphorical sense, but concretely. Will we still live here, or will we have found a way to move?  How can it happen so that our lives can grow beyond this place where our girl has grown-up?  I don't know. I'm asking you all to keep us in your thoughts and in your prayers (if you do that sort of thing).  And on your autodial if you hear of an affordable 2-3 bedroom (that allows for the pet she wants) somewhere between here and the northern border of the city.

My new year's resolution this year: to love this neighborhood every single day we get to keep living here and find a place we can love as much where she can continue to thrive.


audball said...

Happy New Year to you and your family, MothersVox!

I'm glad to hear that M. doesn't mind the distractions. I know that my girl and her brother would be beside themselves - rules are rules in their book! Seeing changes happening outside their window would be hard for us. Although, OWS has been a good civics lesson for many kids - ours included.

I feel sad but excited for you all. Leaving a place where you have so much family history can't be easy. Yet at the same time, to stay and see much of what you love bulldozed over and's hard. I will be so interested to hear how your M takes to the move. Her perspective always leaves me smiling :)

Before my DH's childhood home was being sold/torn down, I went through every room and took pictures. He thought it was silly at the time, but our kids were so fascinated by the house "daddy grew up in". Maybe your M would like to take on a project like that for the transition?

Unfortunately, I know nothing about NYC (though it's a wonderful city!), so we don't have much to offer for info for you, but we will be thinking of you all and wishing you the best for 2012! :)

Brenda Rothman (Mama Be Good) said...

Considering a renovation and wondering the same things. This is my son's house, his safe haven, but. Sigh.