The Washington Post

From urban Clarendon to suburban Bethesda: a different pace

Amy is a blogger at Bethesdan (formerly known as Clarendon Culture) and a new columnist who will be writing about the process of moving in and transitioning to a new neighborhood. This is her first post.

(C/o Amy Moore)

In February, our house-hunt began. On day one, we found our way to a beautiful house in an equally beautiful neighborhood, and it was the closest thing to love-at-first-sight that is possible with real estate. The neighborhood is Carderock Springs, and it’s a development of approximately 400 mid-century modern homes nestled near the Potomac River and Interstate 495. The homes in the neighborhood were strategically placed and designed to maximize the focus on nature: They all have large windows, high ceilings and open layouts. In just the few weeks of living here, Carderock Springs has been a dream. As we learn more about Bethesda’s schools, neighborhoods, environmental initiatives, we know we found a perfect place to call home.

We just passed the three-week mark of our new life in Bethesda, and while Bethesda has a similar urban feel as our former neighborhood of Clarendon, our life has changed quite dramatically since moving, and we’re still trying to wrap our heads around it all.

We got our first glimpse of how life was about to change on the day of our house inspection. We drove up to the house, pulled our toddler out of the car, and the first words to come out of her mouth were “Look! Trees!” In Clarendon (which is all our two year old had ever known to be home), many of the trees aren’t much older than she, and they are all very methodically placed along concrete sidewalks, in real estate developments, and even in parks. Birds really only hang out in Clarendon trees for easy access to dropped food on the outdoor patios.

The simple act of grocery shopping has also been transformed. Only a few days after moving in, I had a moment in which I realized that we had become that family we used to make fun of... the family that pushes the overflowing cart with the rowdy toddler through every aisle in an attempt to stock up on enough groceries for a week’s worth of meals so that we don’t have to repeat the same trip in the coming days. We can’t shop ‘a la carte’ anymore, like we could in Clarendon. There, I would push my daughter’s stroller to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, buy whatever sounded good at that time, and whatever I could fit in the bottom of her stroller, then we’d have a leisurely walk home. In Bethesda, however, shopping involves driving (i.e. pack the diaper bag, get the kid in the car, pray traffic isn’t bad) to an overcrowded lot, and then trying to make a surgical strike on the shopping list while also trying to avoid other overcrowded carts with rowdy kids at the checkout counter.

In addition, our little family of three must have brought the average age of our neighborhood down 30 years. On move-in day to the new house, an octogenarian woman with her yellow lab came by to welcome us to the neighborhood. She told us that she is an original owner of one of the 1960s homes down the street. As we met more neighbors through the coming days and weeks, we realized that the demographics were a far cry from what we were used to. In Clarendon, as parents, we felt ancient. When heading back to our apartment at 8 p.m. to put our daughter to bed, we would often pass our young professional neighbors on the street, dressed to the nines and heading in the opposite direction to hit up the local scene. Restaurants and bars came alive after our daughter’s bedtime, and the way we would make ourselves feel better about missing out was we’d say, “they’re just trying to find the person with whom they’ll one day make a baby with and then have to miss out on the same scene.”

While our new life has certainly thrown us for a loop, we truly are embracing being a suburban family, with all the simple joys that go with that label. We love waking up in the mornings to singing birds perched on the branches of beautifully mature trees, we’re enjoying sitting at the dinner table and eating homemade meals together as a family, and we’re very much looking forward to being a part of the new generation of Bethesda.

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