small world of suburban sprawl

At a daycare picnic yesterday, we sat down with the mother of NK’s best friend.  And we learned that the friend has grandparents who live in New Windsor, New York.  This is in the same exurban county where NK was born, though on the Hudson River instead of the Delaware.

So small world, and all that.  But then came the telling thing about Orange County, New York.  The mother started talking about their visits.  I mentioned Middletown, where I worked, and she lit up.  The mall!!  She goes to the malls on Route 211 all the time!

She kept talking about malls too, all the big regional ones.  And I think this reflects more on this slice of exurbia than on her.  What else would she talk about?  What else truly breaks up the rolling subdivisions and inaccessible forest?

When NK was a baby and we lived in Port Jervis, we too lived and breathed the stores, the malls.  Wal-Mart and K-Mart in Matamoras.  All the shopping on 211.  Woodbury Commons.  The works.

Because that is what you do in Orange County when you have a baby and want to get out of the house and do not have a big network of family and friends.  You drive to malls.

We are actually in much the same place here – now with a toddler and a baby and a much smaller place to live.  Still no big network.  But instead of cars and malls, we trek with strollers from park to park, with the occasional bus or train ride thrown in.

In a way it is killing time.  In a way it is the best quality time.  And I would rather be doing it outside pushing a stroller or digging in a sandbox than driving on Route 17, kids parked in the backseat, on my way to some food court and retail meltdown.

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