For the past nine years I have lived in Manhattan from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side to Midtown East, back to the Upper East. However, a sky-high rent increase finally made my wife and I look to the more suburban outer-boroughs.
We found a huge two-bedroom in Forest Hills and, since I had a friend of mine I’ve known for 15 years out there, we decided to give it a shot.
The first weekend in our new suburban neighborhood shocked us.
I should have taken a clue that maybe moving to Forest Hills wasn’t such a good idea when I ventured out the first Friday night alone only to see police taping off a huge part of Queens Boulevard. When I asked an older man what had happened, he told me that a lady was hit and killed by a car. He proceeded to tell me that the street is infamously known as “The Boulevard of Death.”
We had to contend with not having a grocery store or a drug store around the corner. The apartment sat within shouting distance to a busy intersection with cars screaming off the Grand Central Parkway. Depending on the winds the planes arriving and leaving LaGuardia flew right over us, making the apartment even louder.
My year-old son loved pointing up at the airplanes. He also started mimicking the siren sounds from the very loud and obnoxious Hatzolah volunteer ambulances regularly screaming through the neighborhood.
What really put the dagger in our suburban dream was our landlord. He did not want to fix anything in the apartment. He didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him that the fire department came due to a gas leak that we had been smelling for four days. Nor did he care that the bathroom sink started to fall off the wall while brushing my teeth. When I told him that I was more than happy to do any repairs and deduct it off the rent he quickly broke our lease and offered to give us back our full deposit.
The only two positive things that came out of our Forest Hills adventure was spending time with my good friend and meeting our Forest Hills dads for drinks.
If I didn’t reach out to the other dads in Forest Hills I would have felt more alone than I did. My fellow fathers are helpful, friendly and are going through the same experiences as me.
We are not alone, even though the suburban moms at the playgrounds in Forest Hills make you feel unwanted, there are good dads around. I, for one, will be reaching out a little more to say hello to my band of brothers anywhere they reside.