So Here It Is

“When you moved to the Hudson Valley, did you know how long you’d be staying?” a friend recently asked me.

“I don’t think we really knew anything,” I answered.

I meant it. We didn’t. We knew we wanted to live in this beautiful place. But we didn’t know for how long. We didn’t really have a plan except to enjoy every day, savor the people, the scenery, the food and never forget to be thankful for our luck.

We certainly have done all the above. Our life in this unique place for the last three years has been like a dream, surpassing everything we thought it’d be.

Do you feel a ‘but’ coming?

It’s not a but. It’s a change.

We’re headed back to the Midwest, at the end of May. There are several reasons. None of them are because we don’t like it here. We adore it here. Family and work are calling us back. These are two very important things, right?

We’re headed to Minneapolis.

That’s in Minnesota, New Yorkers. It’s an M state, so you can’t confuse it with Ohio. Well, if you’re Martha Frankel it turns out you can confuse it with Milwaukee.

We’ve both lived there before. It was my home for 20 years. I love the city and I have very dear friends there; people I taught with for many years. I’m thrilled to be going back to be near them. In many ways the friends you made during your 20s, 30s and 40s are the ones who know you best. It’s life affirming to have friends like that. I’m lucky.

Here’s our new place, somewhere in this building. On the 11th floor. Good, right? It’ll be a new adventure, a deluxe apartment in the sky.

Here’s the view. Out that window on the left is the new Twins stadium. I mean, come on. And across the street is a beautiful park. And the Walker Art Museum. And and and.

So it’s all good. I’m just tremendously sad to be leaving this place.

The Hudson Valley and Catskills – what a magical setting. So much beauty and history all wrapped up in one funky package, just teeming with wonderful people.

In no particular order, these are SOME of the things I’m going to miss.

Our friends. Our wonderful, generous, delightful and forever friends.

The light.

The side roads and the back roads. Getting lost and discovering stunning vistas and villages.

Cuddy coming home saying things like, “Oh I ran into Pete Seeger at Rhinebeck Health Foods. He had a little shopping cart and he was looking at tomatoes.”

The craggy elegance of High Falls and its Mercantile. The Mercantile and its adorable people.

Autumn. Mocking the “leaf peepers” while not-so-secretly being one.

Winter. It snows a little then melts. Everyone whines. We know better.

Spring. Everything about spring in the Hudson Valley is a miracle.

Summer. Knowing people who swim in secret “swimming holes.”

Upstate Films.

Bard, right down the road.

The summer theatre at Vassar. Dinner from Gigi on the lawn before.

The have and have-notty discord that is Hudson.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass.

Calling Massachusetts “Mass.” As in taking the Mass Pike over to P-town Mass.

Going to the red brick Rhinecliff fire hall decked out in its election day buntings, being greeted by a white-haired man in LL Bean clothes, peacefully signing in and casting my vote for both NY governor and president of the United States.

Saying, “Let’s go to that coffee place in Red Hook,” then ending up in a different place after that every single time.

Driving north to the Adirondacks, marveling at more of New York’s astounding landscape.

Keene, New York. And the heaven on earth that is Dartbrook Lodge and Dartbrook Rustic Goods. Created and owned by two of the sweetest, most talented and generous guys you’ll ever meet.

Vermont. Boston. Great Barrington. Connecticut. New Hampshire. Maine. New Jersey. (but not Rhode Island)

The fall sun and pumpkins, bees and farmers markets.

Big bad sturdy gritty oh-so-serious Albany. I may be the only person in New York who loves the Empire Plaza and those twin mid-century buildings Rocky plunked there. I’m obsessed with taking photos of that space. And that Egg. What about that?

Oriole9. The coffee, the handsome honey badger chef with whom I wrote a book. The dolls who work there. The Before I Die Wall I helped paint with the beautiful woman who owns it.

The beautiful sister of the beautiful woman who owns Oriole9.

The beautiful children of the beautiful sisters.

Woodstock itself. Accept no substitutes.

Jumping on the train in Rhinecliff – where else on earth is like Rhinecliff? – and meandering down the Hudson, only to get tossed out at the intersection of Mayhem and Chaos, aka Penn Station.

Scrambling to the closest high spot in Manhattan to catch the sunset, then lingering until lights twinkle below.

DIG in Saugerties. Where my life changed when I met Daisy Kramer Bolle.

The Peekamoose. Oh, the Peekamoose. Oh, oh, oh…the Peekamoose. My loves who own it.

Crossing the Rhinecliff Bridge and never not being amazed that I’m crossing the goddamn Hudson River.

Channel 13. New York public television is where it all started.

WAMC. I love hearing them give the weather for the entire northeastern United States.

Those people who own Fabulous Furniture. I love em.

Every single thing about Rhinebeck. But especially Oblong Books and the Paper Trail. And the summer nights we walked into town to sit on a bench, eat ice cream and marvel at our lives.

Sitting in my beloved writing teacher Abby Thomas’ living room knowing I’m free to say or write whatever I want; a miracle I’ve not once taken for granted.

The Vanderbilt Mansion and the weirdness and wonder of Hyde Park.

The music.

The food.

The art.

So, there it is. That’s the news. I like to think of our time here as a visit to a really great arts camp, and now it’s over. Or the best internship in the world, and now it’s back to the real world.

But we’ll return often.

And until June, we’ll be here.

After that, our hearts are here forever.

                                                                                             Cooper Lake, Woodstock, October 5, 2012.

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22 thoughts on “So Here It Is

  1. As always, incredibly written. More than obvious you love it here. Sadly, it makes me feel inadequate that while I've lived in this region for my entire 47 years I haven't come close to finding as much beauty as you have in less than half that time. But you've certainly inspired me to start. I'll see you before you go, but best of luck to two people who can find a glassy lake, a quaint coffee shop and great friends no matter where life takes them.

  2. Oh Kitty, though I've never been there, I feel a need to visit! our writing as always goes straight to my heart!
    You are lucky. And I am happy for you!
    Your new place, wow, it looks fantastic!

  3. The thing I never really got about change (and the nature of things being such that nothing is permanent) is that it takes hard work to resist that constant nature-denying pull to keep things the same. Your acquiescence is inspiring. Truly.

    I will miss our meetups in the lush NY region. But recent developments have got me looking into trips in your new general direction.

    Milwaukee will be the perfect middle ground.

    And you'll have time to get the spoons unboxed (some things never change).

    Safe travels from here to there. xxoo

  4. I think change is always hard. Even when you know you are doing it for all the right reasons. Good luck to you in your new urban adventure.

  5. Jeez Kitty, we have never met, and I'm sorry for that…I had tears well up at this writing, and I'm gonna miss you..Daren Smith

  6. Beautifully written Kitty, as always. Off to your next adventure! Scadutes and I are already planning our sojourn to the scary Midwest. Minneapolis is now on the agenda. Hope to see you before you leave.

  7. I will miss my too infrequent breakfasts with Cuddy at OR9. The man who can talk to anyone. I will never forget how he started a conversation at the long table with an older couple and at the end exchange numbers and dinner invites. He was only the Australian Ambassador to the US! Just a note of hard earned cynicism – was it Dorthy Parker who wrote that you can never go back? Well it's true. People change and when you return they've lived their lives without you and sometimes finding time and space for you isn't possible. I hope you don't experience too much of that. Good Luck!

  8. Thank you, Anon. Actually people's changes are one of my favorite things about life. Thank goodness I've changed a great deal since I lived there. Everyone around me will be better off for that. We'll miss you!

  9. Hi Kitty, I just discovered your blog. I always enjoy going on Facebook to view your daily quips and now I found another unopened window into your world. You just helped my hourlong oil change fly by. Your blog is a treat! I wish you and Cuddy the best in Minny. Naming an area Dinkytown still makes me giggle.

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