Two years ago this fall, we moved out of our home in Bucks County, PA…the place where we had raised our two children. They flew out of the nest, so we decided to move as well and move full time into New York City. Manhattan to be specific. We’re too old for Brooklyn or Hoboken! The move was obviously bittersweet at the time, given the memories and the milestones we had gathered through the years out there.
In the last two years since we moved, we continued to have mixed emotions as we would reminisce about our life in Bucks County with the kids. And we would go back and forth across options as we would think about where we want to take our life now. Without the kids in tow.
So this past weekend we decided to take a sentimental journey back to Bucks County for a quick trip, just one night. We figured it would be fun to visit our old stomping grounds…the canal paths, the scenic drives, the stores, the pubs, and the restaurants.
So we rented a car, a Mustang of all things, and sped out the Holland Tunnel and down I-95 for a 90-minute drive to the country. Our old country.
We decided to stay at The Lambertville House in Lambertville, NJ, located just across the Delaware River from New Hope, PA in Bucks County. An infamous bridge joins the two towns, making Lambertville just as much Bucks County as is New Hope and the other small towns up and down the river.
If I’m to tell the truth, we needed some furniture for the New York apartment, so we knew that the range of antique stores in the area would be a good source and we’d have our share of pickings. We ended up being wrong about that.
We rolled into town too early to check into the hotel so we just parked and started to walk around. We immediately kicked into old habits, swiftly and expertly strolling into store after store, taking pictures of potential purchases that we could ponder over dinner and then hopefully pick up the next day before heading back to the city.
While we didn’t really find anything of interest, we weren’t disappointed…especially with the delicious lunch we had at Lilly’s On The Canal, including the delicious local Dry Riesling. We hit the trails again after lunch, heading over to New Hope for some really unique shops. One in particular, The Creeper Gallery, which was a cross between American Horror Story and Restoration Hardware, if you can picture that. And actually, turns out that there’s a connection to the television show!
Dinner at The Hamilton Grill Room ended up being a bit of a disaster, which shouldn’t have been a surprise because last time we went to this particular restaurant we vowed never to go back. I guess we suffered from amnesia when we booked it on Open Table, but the memories came soaring back as soon as the service began, or actually didn’t begin. You win some, you lose some.
It was a very good reminder that this isn’t a fairy tale reunion tour at all, but simply a dose of reality. Our reality. Things hadn’t changed much in Bucks County in the time we had left.
The next morning, after a trip to the Golden Nugget flea market at 8:00am, we decided to head back early to New York, tossing away plans to pick up some items we had put on hold the day before. We were just not feeling it.
Something had changed, and it wasn’t Bucks County. Everything was exactly the same, exactly as we had left it. In some cases, the same merchandise was still sitting in the same stores. Nothing wrong with that, we loved it there. We still love it there.
As we drove back up I-95 with a detour to the Crate & Barrel Outlet Store at exit 8A, we decided that this trip gave us tremendous closure. We often spoke about perhaps buying another place out there, how much we missed our life there, and how settled we felt there at the time. At the time…but that was another time.
We don’t need to go back there really at all. Bucks County was an amazing chapter in our life…several chapters actually. But that was then and this is now. We are on to new things now, appropriate to our new phase of the empty nest.
So while you certainly can go back home, as they say, I guess you just don’t have to stay there.
To read more about our life in Bucks County, and elsewhere, check out my new book Out and About Dad.