So, today is the first time we have been outside of NYC limits since the onset of COVID-19. It’s been a long, hard road in the city as most days have been spent inside, avoiding people, remote-learning and what seems like, always cleaning our apartment.
We decided back in May to rent a house in the Catskills, because we were unsure of what travel bans would be in place by the time we would be making our exodus. Typically, we escape to the Poconos at least twice a year. We’ve been to the big hotels with the waterparks, but most recently have discovered the charm of Airbnb’s in local, gated communities, that often have their own lakes, pools and activity centers.
Ever since Charlie was born, I take the third-fourth week in July off from work. It’s the birthday week. Charlie, my Mom and my partner, Eric’s birthdays, all fall within 4 days of each other and it just makes things easier if I don’t have to work this week and balance birthday festivities for three of my favorite people in the world.
So here we are, in Phoencia, NY. About a 2.5 hour drive from our apartment in Long Island City. The house is adorable, much like an apartment, but spacious enough for the boys to be playing video games in the living room while I write this in the dining room, seemingly undisturbed (for now)
The best part of this house is that it sits on a creek, which for your city folk is a body of water smaller than a river but different from a stream as creeks are mostly inland, (sounds good, right?) There’s a firepit in the backyard, which is bigger than our local playground at home. It’s charming and best of all, super quiet. I think I could count on one hand the amount of cars I’ve seen drive by this place.
Now, on to the negatives, because, of course, I’m a cynical city gal. THERE IS NO WHERE TO GROCERY SHOP WITHIN 25 MILES OF THIS PLACE! Sure, there’s farmstands, “supermarkets” that are attached to gas stations or on Main Street which is basically a two block stretch of stores that are absolutely designed to catch and release every single City Slicker that enters.
My original plan was to bring with us some frozen chicken and other fixin’s from our new chest freezer that is fully stocked due to COVID and panic-buying at its best. However, this morning, as we were rushing out the door, and I was starting to pack the cooler, Eric said “don’t bring it, let’s just shop when we get there”, and I nodded my head, eager to get on the road and beat whatever imaginary traffic I created in my head on an early Wednesday afternoon during a pandemic.
I shut the cooler, hopped in the car and off we went. 2.5 hours later, as we got closer to our destination, driving through endless back country roads to finally reach the house, there are no big box or actual grocery stores, anywhere.
We got to the house, met the host and settled in. Realizing that it’s now almost 4pm and we were starving, decided to hit “Main Street” and try and find some grub. We went into a local store and grabbed milk, eggs and beer. The true necessities of life. We found an Italian restaurant and ordered a pizza pie to go, decided to get back to the house and figure out dinner when we got back because, get this, THERE IS ALSO NO CELL SERVICE UP HERE!!!!!! I mean it, not one, single bar.
We came back, drank some beers and ate the entire pizza pie. A few moments later, it started to rain. Beautiful, gentle, sweet summer smelling rain. Charlie screamed, “Mom, it’s raining” and ran outside to dance in it. That’s when I knew, even though we were momentarily food-deprived with no dinner on the horizon, it was all worth it.
So, here we are, I’m writing and the boys are playing video games. We will drive 25 miles tomorrow morning to go to Shop Rite and get some dinner for tomorrow, Charlie’s birthday. We asked him what he would like for dinner and he said ice cream. For now, we ordered $100 in takeout from a place about 12 miles away and are praying that it actually shows up. If not, I guess it’s cereal for dinner.
I was born and raised in NY and often fantasize about leaving. There are MANY reasons we don’t, but still, I often find myself window shopping on Zillow and imagining a life where Charlie can play in a backyard and take an actual school bus to school.
Sounds like a no-brainer until you can’t just run up the block to a decent grocery store or everything closes at 8pm or things like UberEats and DoorDash don’t even exist. I love living in NYC, we just need a reminder every 6 months or so. Stay tuned for more stories of this trip and other fun happenings in NYC during COVID.
Stay safe, be well and for the record, the mask doesn’t do shit if it’s not covering your nose.