Feb 24 2014
Happiest Junior 4 on the upper west side for rent.*
It was on a black leather couch in this formerly sprawling bachelor pad that I fell in love with my husband. I won’t retell the story but it involves years and years of close friendship, no-we-don’t-like-each-other-like-that’ness, late-night one-on-one poker games, discussions about relationships we were having with other people, and finally a deep, crazy love.
The formerly-1-bedroom apartment was gigantic for one person, cavernous. He had a huge desk in the office area where we now store 3 strollers, 2 car seats, a scooter, a bicycle, snow boots, shoes, jackets, as well as have a make-shift pantry area. In addition to the black leather L-shaped couch, and the largest tv anybody had ever seen, IC had a random couch in what became our dining room and then Sadie’s room and then Sadie and Jack’s room.
With each additional person the apartment grew tighter until we knew we were moving, just didn’t know when and where. Brooklyn was the obvious choice. It’s where I grew up and it’s near IC’s work. We looked seriously for almost 3 years. We concentrated on Carroll Gardens at first and then Columbia Street Waterfront. Nothing felt right and prices kept rising. We looked way outside our price range. I remember seeing a dark, small 2.7 million dollar brownstone and thinking “I can’t live here.” Or all the places we’d see that would require gut renovations and years of work. We thought we could commit to something like that but as our baby became a toddler and then a little girl and as one child became two we weren’t so sure.
The first place I really liked I saw without my husband on Sackett Street in Columbia St Waterfront. So much about it was wrong. The main living area was somewhat beneath ground and it basically had no closets. But it had 3 bedrooms, a huge backyard and a parking spot. We had looked for so long with absolutely no results that we weren’t messing around. We put an offer at full asking price before IC even saw the place. They accepted it but, as is somewhat typical in real estate in NY right now, dropped us when a better offer with cash and fewer contingencies presented itself.
A few weeks later our patient broker saw a place in Park Slope without us. He called us and said he had seen our future home. We didn’t believe it. It’s not that we didn’t like Park Slope, we did, just couldn’t imagine it having the home we’d want at a price we’d want to pay. We had resigned ourselves to up&coming, like Columbia St (I know as far as “up and coming” goes Columbia St isn’t exactly…rough. But we’re not pioneers and our top priority was a good school district which Columbia St has), but Park Slope had up and went decades ago. I think of it as the first hipster area of Brooklyn. Years before there was a Williamsburg there was Park Slope with its cool restaurants and Manhattan-like shops. It didn’t feel like the rest of Brooklyn. People from my part of Brooklyn (the south part) would go out in Park Slope as if it were the city. I remember when Blue Ribbon opened. It was groundbreaking. Places like that, Manhattan-type places, hadn’t existed in Brooklyn before. Also, three years of looking and making zero offers and then two offers in two months? Ok.
The first time we saw the Park Slope apartment we knew it was it. Bright and big, it had balconies everywhere we looked and a big roofdeck with views of just about everything, Manhattan on one side, Statue of Liberty on the other. We pictured parties, poker games, dinners outside. It was so quiet. We just saw our life there. When our offer wasn’t accepted we were pretty bummed. Everything seemed hopeless. We started to think of ways to make our current apartment work for the long-term. Then their original offer fell through and we got a second shot at it. And now it’s happening, it’s actually happening.
Saying goodbye to our current apartment has proven hard for me. My husband is so ready to go. But I think of life as time periods in places I’ve lived and measure out how happy I’ve been through them. And I’ve never been happier than in this apartment. No matter how tight it was, the toys all over the place, the closets overflowing, we were happy here. We were more than happy here. Life came together here. Every Sunday during football season almost everyone in our family piles onto our huge couch. We watch the games and eat all day. I learned to cook here, we bought our first furniture together here, our children came home from the hospital here. We’d dance around the living room and kitchen, first just together, then with one more, now with two. This is a home filled with joy.
We’ve spent our last few weeks here going to neighborhood places we love. The Smith is our absolute favorite brunch spot, Red Farm for dinner again and again, shopping at Trader Joe’s, Citarella and, when I absolutely have to, Fairway. I’ll leave our new tenants a list but there’s an incredible sushi place called Yasaka on 72nd street. I’d say it’s our little secret but as it’s basically impossible to get into even during the week the secret is probably out. We order Chinese food from a hole-in-wall called Wok City. They nail that broccoli every time. When we’re feeling fancy we order from Shun Lee. I’ve been od’ing on visiting Century, the last days of Loehmann’s, Gap and Zara for kids.
If you’re moving here with kids I can’t say enough good things about the JCC. Sadie started going there when she was 18-months old and then started at the nursery school and camp there. It is a happy, welcoming, nurturing place. I’m most sad about leaving it.
I know it’s fashionable to hate Manhattan right now. Playground of the rich, boring, staid, over. Come on. It’s Manhattan. It’s the greatest city in the world, there is no other. I love Brooklyn, I’m from Brooklyn, I put my hands up in the sky when Brooklyn gets a shout-out but no matter the branding, theme songs, the artisanal pickle shops, Brooklyn is what it is because of its proximity to Manhattan. Manhattan is so crushingly expensive because everyone in the world (whatever, Shane Schleger) wants to be here. I’ll always love it and think often of the 13 years I spent living in this treasure of a city. Not everyone gets the chance to be here, to really live in Manhattan, and there’s just no way I won’t miss it.
I’m ready for this next chapter for us. I think of our new apartment all the time and I can’t wait to live there. I know we’ll fill it with the same happiness we had here. Life moves on, kids grow up, more space is needed. But Manhattan isn’t an old boyfriend you leave behind, I won’t just love Brooklyn to the exclusion of loving Manhattan. I take this city with me like a sibling or parent. It will never not mean something to me.
*The apartment has been rented but if you’re looking for a different happy Junior 4 on the upper west side, email our broker firstname.lastname@example.org. He rented out our place super fast and has other listings like it.