We often visit my brother-in-law in New Jersey. He lives in a lovely little city with his wife and three kids, whom I adore to the point of the embarrassing. Their house is a giant, sturdy Victorian in a neighborhood very different from ours. They have several parks around them, but almost no yard. The neighborhood is very gracious and, as we often comment, great for trick-or-treating. (When my kids were little, I’d have to put them in the little red wagon and pull them half a mile up and down our street to hit five houses, so you can see why this is such a thrill for us.) We often comment on the novelty of walking on the sidewalk, as we only have those on Main Street in my town.
There’s a British pie shop not far from Brian’s, where you can buy meat pies and pastries and Toffee Crisps and Maltesers. It’s very Harry Potter. There’s a movie theater in town. A train that goes right into Manhattan. At one of the nearby parks, there’s a very upscale playground with rubber flooring and landscaping and a fountain. The ice cream truck comes. It’s heaven.
Then, at the end of the day, we get back in the car, deal with the New Jersey Turnpike, and head back home, to the quiet and the trees and our little gray house in the woods, where the owl family welcomes us back.