Wow, what a ride this has been. Almost 14 years ago in 2008, my husband and I, who met at WWE and lived together just down the street from the headquarters in Stamford CT for many years, decided to follow our dream and move to Park Slope. Or more specifically, South Slope, just 1 & ½ blocks away from your favorite pediatrician’s office. What a different place it was back then. I remember feeling like we were living on the “fringe” - not quite Park Slope, as it was rapidly evolving and undergoing quite the dramatic shift. To put it in perspective, one day, not too long after we moved, we witnessed a shooting on our street (thankfully no one was hit by the bullet) - and thankfully that did not exemplify the overall safe, beautiful area that was our new home. It was exhilarating, we were both working in the city and loving everything 30-something year olds do when they have nothing to do but live and play hard, which we were really, REALLY good at (especially the “play” part)!
One of my very favorite early memories in PS after becoming first time home owners, after painting the walls of our new apartment for 10 hours straight on our first night, our grumbling bellies walked down 5th avenue in search of sustenance…and no less than 20 steps away we found what would become our new favorite restaurant, Sidecar. And we ordered what would be our favorite local dinner, the ridiculously amazing fried chicken (salivating as I write this - the kale side as well, amazing). And we ate this at 2am, far beyond any restaurant hours where we had come from. We were in LOVE. I remember almost falling off the bench saying, “Your kitchen is still open”??? No, we were not in Kansas, I mean Connecticut, any longer.
And this love affair with Park Slope only grew more intense with every passing day, and grew 100 million fold four years later when we gave birth to our little girl Amaya. Prior to giving birth, as we all need to do, I had selected a pediatrician, one that a friend & neighbor recommended and I figured that would be just fine (knowing absolutely zero about how immensely important this decision is). Skip ahead to post delivery, and the pediatrician on duty at Methodist Hospital walked into the hospital room, and it was love at first sight (sorry, Matteo)!!! He looked at me and my sweet girl with such genuine care and concern, and all I could say was, “So how can you be our doctor”??!!! And at that moment we became one of Dr. Cao’s first patients at South Slope Pediatrics.
The next 4 years were abound of “playground-hopping” (replacing the bar hopping of previous life), lots of dancing to Amy Miles, Hootenanny and Pete Sinjin, swim and ballet at the YMCA, exploring our beautiful park, the Zoo, the Botanical gardens, many brunches at Black Horse, Prospect Bar, Korzo, Piccoli, Sidecar…and more than anything, these memories are full of the amazing friendships that were fostered in Park Slope. What a beautiful tribe of friends we made. And during these years I was so fortunate to develop not only a very special friendship with Matteo and Hai, but also became their “marketing sidekick”, for lack of a better term! I started helping with social media posts & writing this monthly blog, which I’ve now been tasked with for 7+ years. Gulp, sigh, cry.
The one small detail I’ve skipped over is that in November of 2015, I gave birth to our (terrible sleeper, colic, but super adorable and sweetest ever) son Colton…and our small 2-bedroom apartment felt smaller than ever. For the record, “2” was a bit of exaggeration as that second bedroom was truly a glorified closet. I'm certain that many will understand what I mean, and it was a miracle that our toddler fit inside! And we all know that despite their size, children occupy a CONSIDERABLE amount of space. It was quite evident that after 6 months as a family of four we would either need to move out of the city (as our budget would not allow for a larger space in Brooklyn) OR we would lose our minds, which was already starting to happen at a rapid pace. We decided on the former, and in September 2016 we had landed back where both Joe and I grew up, in Westchester County, NY. Back to the ‘burbs. It almost felt forced, as we didn’t have much of a choice (that is, unless again sanity was out the door)!
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I was full-on depressed, crying and missing the special place that we called home for over 8 years EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Our son did not sleep through the night (let alone more than 3 hrs straight), I was home with him, a daughter in preschool part time, husband working in the city. Surely…I loved our beautiful new home, our private yard, and the space! The space….that was the shining light. We visited Park Slope monthly after moving, and then slowly, we found our people here...and the visits to Brooklyn became less and less often. Our son finally learned to sleep, after three very difficult years. We found our community, we found our tribe. While we will never have another South Slope Pediatrics, we will never ever have another Dr. Cao, we do not have anything nearly as awesome as Sidecar’s fried chicken (don’t get me started on the food here), and we cannot go to the world’s best sing-a-longs, we did find and create a new happy life, and one that we’ve learned to embrace over the last few years.
While our son was only 10 months old when we moved, my daughter had just celebrated her 4th birthday prior to leaving Park Slope. She remembers Josephine at Black Horse. She remembers dancing to the fiddle at the farmer’s market. She remembers our picnics and lazy summer afternoons in the park, and endless number of days exploring Prospect Zoo and Lefrak. While we’ve visited since, it has been some time and I can’t wait to return again, sharing memories and reminding them about the MOST AMAZING PEDIATRICIAN’S OFFICE IN THE WORLD, and how lucky we are that our paths crossed that day almost 9 and ½ years ago.
For the record, we have learned to love it here, now going on over 5 years since we left our wonderful apartment in South Slope. We are in a diverse neighborhood, only 25 minutes from Manhattan (and an hour closer to summer visits in Maine)! We can go bike or walk to so many friends' houses. We have smores at night by our firepit. We can close our eyes outside and hear nothing but the wind. We can walk to a pond down the street to go fishing. Our summers are filled with lawn games and playing in our tacky above ground pool. Our kids are deeply involved in sports. We absolutely love our elementary school. We can jump up and down and yell and laugh as loud as we want without worrying about disturbing the neighbors. There is a sense of community here. We have found our new happy place.
So for my final blog, I want to say thank you to Hai & Matteo and the amazing staff at South Slope Pediatrics for this opportunity. You are an extended family, and always will be. My family is so very grateful that Dr. Cao was on duty that night on September 9th of 2012, and we will forever hold you all in our hearts. I can’t wait to see you, and our beautiful Park Slope, again.