Escape from New York: Seeking Sanctuary in the Hudson Valley
New Yorkers have a long history of retreating to the Hudson Valley to unwind. I am no exception.
My husband and I have been taking trips to the Hudson Valley for close to a decade. We are lucky to have friends with a farm in Ghent, NY. DeWayne and Carsten’s property is right out of the pages of a magazine with cows, picturesque silos and perfectly curated flower and vegetable gardens that Martha Stewart wished she had planted. The piece de resistance is their Dutch farmhouse built in 1860 they call Chacara (Portuguese for country house).
Weekends at Chacara are always fun. Days were filled with trips to Hudson for shopping on Warren Street or walking the grounds of Olana (artist Frederic Church’s home). Evenings were for dinner parties with carefully chosen guest lists and Michelin worthy menus.
These first trips to the Hudson Valley were the start of something. Fleeing my tiny apartment and chaotic life in the city gave me a heightened sense of appreciation for the area. Each adventure would begin with a relaxing train ride from Penn Station with the Hudson River right outside my window. I fell in love with the beautiful landscapes, quality of life and the cliche collection of New York intellectuals seeking sanctuary there.
The only thing stronger than my weekend wanderlust to flee the city is my desire to return to it on Sundays.
I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta and always had my sights set on New York City. My obsession with the cultural capital of the free world began in the 5th grade when my parents finally allowed me to have a subscription to Vogue magazine. Images and articles about New York City filled the pages and it was obvious, even to a 10 year old, that this was the place to be for artists, entrepreneurs and creators of all kinds.
The energy of the people that live in New York City make it a very special place to live. Everyone comes here to do something big and they aren't just talking about it, they are doing it. It's inspiring to witness and that electric creative current feeds my soul and I’m not sure I will ever leave it voluntarily.
When I was 8 months pregnant and living in a 1 bedroom apartment, my husband and I considered moving. We looked in Brooklyn (just as expensive as NYC) and took a few trips to the suburbs, but nothing spoke to me and the looking gave me terrible anxiety/SPD (suburban panic disorder).
We live just steps from Washington Square Park. This part of Greenwich Village is a quiet retreat separated from the noise and insanity of the rest of the city. University Place only extends between Union Square Park and Washington Square Park, which keeps us protected from general traffic. The tree-lined streets are filled with antique shops and iconic New York restaurants like Il Cantanori, Babbo and Gotham Bar and Grill. We have every convenience within 2 blocks of our house.
Needless to say, we wanted to stay in our neighborhood. We had a few moments of hope when the apartment next to ours became available. I had always heard about New Yorkers improving their living situation by acquiring apartments surrounding theirs. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Joining these two apartments would have been just the right amount of space for our growing family. We called architects, the bank and checked on all the details. Everything was moving along perfectly. Suddenly, we became victims of a New York phenomenon. We were outbid by a celebrity. Weeks away from becoming parents, we decided to table our living situation. Life was happening weather we had room for it or not.
Somehow we figured out how to live in our small apartment with a child. I hired a professional organizer and drastically scaled down our furniture and belongings. As our storage spaces reached full capacity and my daughter was celebrating her second birthday, we decided that buying a house in the Hudson Valley would be the answer to our dilemma. Within a few months, we found and bought a beautiful townhouse right in Hudson with a view of the Catskills. Having 2000 square feet of space on the weekends is a game changer. We are happier.
I can’t say that our apartment in the city is no longer a challenge, because it is. However, just about the time I’m totally exasperated with it, it’s time to go to Hudson. The exasperation fades on the train with the river out my window and the prospect of 3 bathrooms on the horizon.
Having room to stretch on weekends allows us to stay in our favorite place during the week. In New York, my husband has time for breakfast with his princess because it only takes him 10 minutes to get to work. I can walk my daughter to school and I am able to juggle parenthood and my art career with everything close by. We enjoy our city life and look forward to our time in Hudson. Our double life is not perfect, but it’s perfect for us.