By Diana Zimmerman
The children of immigrants, his
father and I were city kids, growing up in the 50's
and 60's, playing stickball and potsy on the
sidewalks of Manhattan. Living in dingy, cramped
apartments with thin walls, splintered floors,
little privacy or space, we absorbed the idea that
the key to a better life was education. So we worked
hard, traveling to high school by rush-hour subway.
Our parents scrimped; we won scholarships; we
commuted to summer jobs in an office and a lab. We
lived at home and went to school by bus, gleaning
the best college and graduate school experiences
that the city had to offer: Columbia, Hunter, NYU.
Newly married, we saved our money,
shared a studio apartment and the dream of someday
living in a real "house."
So it came to pass. Our first-born
took his first steps on grass. He grew up in the
wall-to-wall carpeted, carpool-driven suburbs. His
childhood included Little League, trees outside his
window, sleep-away camp, a basketball hoop in the
driveway, and his own car to drive to high school.
And of course he would go away to college,
fulfilling our secret fantasies of living in a dorm,
walking through the lushly green campus to his
So there we were at Duke
University, parent's visiting weekend, freshman
year. As we stood shivering, not quite understanding
why there was a bus stop outside his dorm, our son
proceeded to recount HIS fantasy to us. "Someday,
after I graduate, I'd really like to live in a
little apartment in New York City -- I just love the
idea of Manhattan, hard-wood floors, lots of people
-- the energy, the excitement!
His father and I just looked at
each other. Finally, the bus arrived to take us to
West Campus and a sample session of his favorite
sociology course: "The Urban Experience."
About the Author: A
professional organizer who writes and speaks, Diana
Zimmerman is the author of THE ULTIMATE COLLEGE
CHECKLIST and YOUR FIRST APARTMENT, booklets in the
"How Am I Supposed To Know That?" series for
teenagers and young adults. Contact at: