Getting to Know You
Emma and Bruce Willis adjust to life in Bedford
photo // Instagram @emmahemingwillis
My husband, Bruce, and I always knew we would end up back on the East Coast. He’s from New Jersey, and I lived and worked in New York City for many years as a model. It’s always felt like home to us. So there was never any doubt that we would ultimately migrate back east after many years in California. Once we welcomed our two youngest children, Mabel and Evelyn, we realized it was time to replant our roots.
We moved to Bedford last Thanksgiving, just in time for the worst New York winter ever. May I just say that it was a brutal welcoming back? Indeed, a very rude awakening.
We were accustomed to the warm California sun—cavorting about in shorts and tees in the winter. Still, the truth is there’s no place like home, and we felt a sense of relief being back on the East Coast with all that it has to offer. I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to experience the seasons as they transition, one into the next.
When next winter rolls around, we’ll be better prepared. I know what clothes our girls will need. I know the places I can take them to get them out of the house and somewhere that will stave off cabin fever. My new mantra for the upcoming winter: I will embrace the snow, and I will love it!
Has it been a monumental transition for this “city girl” to leave Manhattan and settle in a more pastoral setting? You bet. I mean the deer-tick situation alone has sent me over the edge. I’m petrified for obvious reasons. Lyme disease can be crippling and even deadly. So, I take precautions every chance I can, like wearing protective clothing when we go for walks in the woods.
We are very lucky that if we need a fix of high-octane energy, all we have to do is flee to the city and spend a few days taking in all the smells—autumn leaves piling up in Central Park, the scent of orange blossoms exploding in spring, New York delis preparing lunches, the foul scent of dormant dog pee steaming from the hot summer sidewalks—and attractions, like Broadway shows, window shopping, city playgrounds, and the Central Park Zoo.
What has been the biggest surprise to me is I’ve never felt the need to actually flee since we moved to Bedford. In fact, I’ve shockingly had the opposite reaction. My kids give me my full share of action, and once they are in bed by 7 p.m., Bruce and I really welcome the peace and quiet. The croaking of nearby frogs or the clicking of cicadas calling for rain—yes, those ones that don’t emerge but every 17 years—is that what I’m hearing? Is that really the Big Dipper I’m gazing at against a perfectly clear, black sky on a cool summer night?
I do love the city, but then I ask myself, what am I really missing there? Clubbing? Those days are happily in the past. Fine dining? We have our favorite restaurants 15 minutes away from us. In fact, Bedford and Westchester, as a whole, have a great deal more to offer than the city, I’ve come to realize.
My life now is totally family-focused. I plan my work schedule around theirs, so I’m always on the search for fun places for the girls to discover. And to be quite frank, it’s not only fun for them but for me too. I frequent a website called MommyPoppins.com that offers a plethora of activities to choose from—always something happening.
And now I have so much more inspiration to bring to my mommy and lifestyle blog Emma Heming Willis (emmahemingwillis.com). For instance, a friend told me about Stone Barns Center, which offers a “Little Cooks” class. My oldest daughter, Mabel, couldn’t get enough. Not only is she learning about farm-to-table, but this city girl is, too. I loved being able to write about that experience.
The community has really welcomed us. From the adorable preschool that Mabel attends—including the parents—to the owner of the gas station I frequent. I’ve also noticed how liberating it feels to be able to go about town with my husband and the girls, and everyone is totally respectful, offering a knowing nod or a polite “nice to see you.”
Bedford feels like home, and this is where our heart is.