A Mysterious Malady Afflicting Many a Westchester Address
One homeowner’s personal battle.
A couple years ago, my son played a varsity sport in college. On the team website, there was a head shot (couldn’t he have combed his hair?) and a bio about our athlete in which I learned, among other fascinating tidbits, that his hometown was Harrison, New York.
Yet on the professional website of his older sister—same parents, same family—I read recently that my daughter was raised in Rye. And this gave me pause. Because last I checked, my two kids grew up in the same house, on the same street, in adjacent bedrooms. The distance between their beds—still intact though rarely used—is probably no more than 15 feet.
As newborns, both of my kids were brought home to this house, where they proceeded to live their lives until they escaped to college and beyond. Their dad and I remained married—to each other—and never sold the family home or moved elsewhere, or in any way changed addresses in all that time. In rather boring fashion, we came, bought, stayed, and still to this day reside in the very same structure—give or take a renovation or three—on the same plot of land.
And, oh yes, we are not in any way related to Amelia Earhart. For the uninformed, the line between Rye and Harrison runs through the famous aviator’s old property, so each year on the anniversary of her disappearance, the two towns get to squabble over who can claim her as its famous past resident. (Answer: Both. It’s said her breakfast room was in one town, her bedroom in another.) So, nope, no town lines run through our property. Rather, our regular old suburban home is the victim of Bi-Postal Disorder.
Particularly prevalent here in Westchester, BPD homes have a mailing address or a PO—post office in the world of real estate abbreviations—in one town but are really located in a different, second town to which its owners pay taxes, elect officials, and send their students to school. So, while our house has a Rye PO, it is physically located in Harrison. Big deal, you scoff. Why yes, it is, actually, a very Big Deal to those of us afflicted with BPD who literally don’t know where we are at any given moment of the day even though we might not have even left our own homes. Scary.
Those bravely battling the disorder include some residents of the Queen City of New Rochelle who have Scarsdale addresses, those who live in Greenburgh but receive mail addressed to White Plains, and even the executive editor of this very publication, who suffers from a rare, atypical variant of the malady. Nancy Claus lives in the teeny bucolic hamlet of Waccabuc, which would really be South Salem if the community hadn’t bought the post office to maintain the fabled Waccabuccian moniker. Claus’s mail is addressed to Waccabuc but her kids went to Katonah-Lewisboro schools because both Waccabuc and South Salem are part of the town of Lewisboro, but have nothing to do with Katonah, which is a part of Bedford. Did you get all that?
As for myself, after all these years residing in the same house on the same street, I still must pause for a few seconds when people ask me where I live. It has become easier over time—my kids ended up at a private school in Rye, my husband’s business is in Rye, Google maps and my friends’ GPS’s say I live in Rye, and the Harrison post office returns mail to the sender that is addressed to me in Harrison, so I usually just say Rye to everyone who doesn’t actually live in Harrison or Rye. As do my husband and daughter. But clearly, for my son, whose drawers still overflow with Harrison Little League, basketball, and soccer team T-shirts, sports trumps all. Because home is where the hoops and the baseball diamond are, he grew up in Harrison. (For the record, my daughter’s leotards weren't stamped with the name of either town.)
But it could’ve been worse. Before we bought our house in, um, Rye/Harrison or wherever the heck it’s located, we looked seriously at a house in Armonk. Its mailing address? Greenwich, Connecticut—a whole other state of mind, indeed.