I plan to see the Joan Rivers documentary this weekend and I’m thrilled; it’s long overdue information. I’ve always considered Joan to be the spiritual guide to my chosen home of Westchester County, even though she left neighboring Larchmont years ago for I guess some great part of LA. That’s fine. There’s where you’re born, where you’re raised, where you have fun, where you raise your kids, and that’s where I am now, and that’s Westchester.
I’m still finding my way here, and like Joan’s life, it hasn’t been entirely easy. Westchester is a reward for good Jewish girls and their children that like most rewards, is mixed. Pelham, my enclave, looked like the most compelling version of very settled to me and my husband when we found our slightly compromised 1939 Bauhaus. We were almost 30 then and living in Manhattan. Dressing for the county (but at the moment the local real estate agent) I forget what I wore, but I know it was a chicer version of what I’ve worn since I moved because I was thinner. It was also better than what people who live here wear because, well just look at Metro North. Our “sellers” broker had a new Toyota Avalon in which she took a great deal of misplaced pride. This was before I became deeply invested in the strict pedigrees of Westchester, which unlike other United States counties, involves hierarchies accorded to material purchases and not, say, lineage.
Which suggests the – dark is too deep a word – flip side to Westchester. It is no new concept that material values can wreak havoc on better ones, and I can report firsthand that we residents of Westchester County sacrifice considerably for our gains. My husband’s morals, for example, which were expressed in earlier years through liberal political leanings and their frequent companion, thoughtful and interesting sex, now believes in Bloomberg. He works so hard to pay our property taxes that for several years we hardly ever saw him at night. And he took some long business trips. I read that Joan shouts “Fuck you!” to Edgar’s photograph, and I frequently feel this way about Adam even though he has not committed suicide. We have been getting along pretty well recently, for several reasons including being extremely proud of our children, or annoyed with them at the same time.
I have become more comfortable here, comfort being another core regional value. I used to think that all the women in my town (the men don’t seem to exist in any real way) were mean and superficial, like the members of the popular clique in my high school or the movies I’ve seen about that since. Now this image remains but it is more faint, as a black-and-white rendering with splashes of pastel. I’ve become more familiar with these women. I really like a few, kind of like some, and even the ones I wouldn’t join on a paid Caribbean vacation I could now have a drink with.
It is hard to call my time so far in Westchester a journey, but I will say this: I have become more brittle, tougher, and impatient. Yet, once that’s out of the way, there is room for an interpersonal collapse, or a coming together, which doesn’t just pass for intimacy, but really is. At least here, and at least now.