In the quarter century since I moved out of my parents’ house in Newton, Mass., I have spent approximately zero seconds thinking I’d like to move back to such a suburban idyll.
I began my adult life, instead, in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles and the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. I bought my first apartment at the corner of West 108th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan; my second in the West Loop of Chicago. Then I moved to a loft in a converted newspaper printing plant in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and later, to a two-flat in Jerusalem’s Old Katamon.
Sure I grew up in the suburbs, but I was a city person. I talked fast and walked fast and, especially when I was in a faraway place like Israel, or Kansas, everyone seemed to think my sarcasm and sass spelled New Yorker. I have never used a lawn mower. My twins, like many Brooklyn babies of their particular demographic moment, began their cultural education at Music for Aardvarks, where their favorite lyric was, “Good thing I’m a city kid, ’cause I can hail a cab!”
Then, one day in December 2015, I found myself being ferried by a real estate broker through shady streets that looked faintly familiar. We were house-hunting in Montclair, N.J., 13 miles from Manhattan rather than seven west of Boston, but it might as well have been my hometown.