Just like millions of people around the world dream of living in New York, an incredible number of New Yorkers dream of having a place to get away from the city every now and then. A buen retiro, as they say in Italy using a Spanish expression, a place to live with a different rhythm.
Bryan in Woodstock
Listen to the story told by the author, Flavio Soriga
Just like millions of people around the world dream of living in New York, an incredible number of New Yorkers dream of having a place to get away from the city every now and then. Bryan and David have chosen a small community two hours away from the city by car, a place that became famous worldwide due to an event that didn’t even happen here –The Woodstock Festival in 1969. “Say the name and everyone immediately thinks of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin”, says Bryan, “although in the end the concert was moved to a nearby town. Actually, the interesting thing is that Woodstock was chosen in the first place because it was already some sort of an artists’ colony and had been for some time.” Bryan is a psychologist with an office on Fifth Avenue; since the school days he felt the desire to live in a big city. “I grew up in a college town near Milwaukee, in a stone house facing a lake. My parents took us to Chicago every so often, where we stayed in a hotel, went to the theatre and shopping. I could feel the energy of the city, and I thought I would never get tired of it. After college, I went to live in Madrid, where I again found that force, and upon returning to the States I immediately thought the right place for me would be NYC. For years I worked as a volunteer for an association that helped LGBT people to avoid discrimination by offering psychological support on the phone. It was then I discovered that I wanted to be a psychoanalyst.
After many years in New York, I can still feel that energy, and my partner and I both love to charge up on it during the week. But it’s great to be able to balance things, to go to the country, to be alone with our cat; knowing that all around us there are mountains, deer and bears”. A buen retiro, as they say in Italy using a Spanish expression, like the park in Madrid built by a king in the past, a place to live with a different rhythm. “Our work in the city is full of great intensity. I welcome patients to my studio, and I absorb the tensions of the people who talk about their lives. My partner, after many years of roaming the world, is now in charge of communications for a large corporation. When we come up to Woodstock, the intention is to slow down the pace, and time sure becomes more elastic. We have a fireplace, a swimming pool for the summer, and we can cook outside”. How does one find the perfect buen retiro? “We wanted a place where we would not have to give up the pleasure of dining out in a nice place, visiting an exhibition, and we wanted it to be welcoming. Painters, actors, directors live in Woodstock. There is a foundation that offers residencies to young artists from all over the world. You see many gay, interracial couples, and people of different faiths. On Sundays, we get together at the Square Drum Circle, where people come to play music and dance with others”. Bryan’s eyes light up when he talks about the old dairy farm, and the woods around it. “At first we had guests every week, then our friends were contaminated by our enthusiasm. It was like a wave, they would come to visit and then decide to buy houses for themselves. Today we almost never have guests, because our friends have all followed us here. David’s brother has opened a pizzeria in town”. Aren’t you ever afraid, I ask Bryan, to spend nights out here? “The crime rate in Woodstock is incredibly low, definitely lower than most neighbourhoods in New York. Actually, the real danger is to run into a hungry bear. Luckily, for the time being, we’re doing fine”. The hour’s up, doctor, I tell Bryan after our chat. He laughs. “It’s nice not being the one who has to say that for a change. Plus, it is always time spent pleasantly, when I can talk about our house”. You can see him thinking about the weekend, and that old wooden house two hours from Fifth Avenue. The idea of a buen retiro has an additional purpose: making one eagerly await, with excitement.