A couple of weeks ago we were in our friends' lovely Brooklyn apartment. Both artists, I wasn't surprised that they have a wonderful aesthetic. Lots of white with warm wood accents. Sprigs of baby's breath here and there and everywhere. It was kind of like spending the afternoon in a French farmhouse.
I've been thinking a lot about their place; appreciating how the simplest things make a house (or a New York apartment) a home.
In the last ten years, Chris and I have lived in 4 apartments. We started our sojourn in a 4 room railroad above a Chinese takeout place in Jersey City. In the year and a half that we lived there, we painted the walls and lay new linoleum on the kitchen floor. It was where we were living the first time I saw a cockroach - just one but one was enough- and it was on that apartment stoop where Chris watched the second tower of the World Trade Center fall.
Once I landed a new job, we decided to move into Manhattan and settled on a Murray Hill studio, just a few blocks north of Gramercy Park. We figured if our marriage could survive 300 square feet, it could survive anything. God, I adored that place. With almost floor to ceiling lead windows that looked out at the Chrysler Building, it was truly the quintessential New York apartment. And we even entertained - welcoming out-of-town visitors, hosting book clubs and dinner parties. Now, it of course had its drawbacks. The first winter, we slept in fleece jackets and knit hats and listened to the wind push its way through the uninsulated walls. And of course the poor cat, had little room to run, and probably gained the ten extra pounds she is yet to lose while lounging in that tiny place.
After three years in Murray Hill, we headed to Harlem and moved into a newly renovated one-bedroom apartment with exposed brick walls and a community roof deck, where we spent many a lazy Sunday morning. Though 40 blocks from work, it was a straight shot and on fall and spring days, I enjoyed the long walk. I've always been one to need a little solitude to rejuvenate.
But, once Chris and I decided to start a family, we looked to moving out of Manhattan. We wanted more space, and certainly more quiet. Our Harlem block, once closed off as a play street during the the summer, had turned into the 24 hour party: fights, music and firecrackers. We also saw our neighbors begin to lose pride in the street - garbage was tossed in the gutters and graffiti was left on the walls.
We were familiar with Astoria. Chris had worked with a theatre company that had got its start in an Astoria church basement. We had also made the trip across the East river to visit friends or pick up great Greek food and pastries. Now that we're here, I wonder why we didn't move ages ago. People are kind, and everything we want is just a few blocks away; coffee, groceries, movie theaters and consignment shops. And I our love our home.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a Rocky Mountain girl - I miss the mountains, fresh air, flower gardens, backyards with trampolines and swing sets. And there's a part of me, a big part of me, that wants nothing more than that childhood for my little Turtle. But today, in this moment, I am so proud of the life we're giving him and the home where he's being raised.