Saturday, November 20, 2010

Growing Pains

As my time in New York approaches the six year mark, I can't help but look back on all the good (and not so good) apartments I've had over the years. First there was my dorm at NYU, which was dramatically bigger than any apartment I've lived in since. These "apartment style" dorms were originally loft apartments that the university bought and then converted into two bedroom student apartments. Tucked away right in the heart of SoHo (Broome St. and Mulberry), these "dorms" were enor
162 E 88th St, forever my home
mous to say the least. Gigantic living room, three big closets, spacious bedrooms and an actual bathtub! *For those of you not accustomed to Manhattan living, the bathtub, as opposed to the shower stall, is a huge luxury up here. And did I mention washer and dryer on my floor? And full access to the NYU gym? And the ability to walk to every bar downtown? In other words, this was a 21 year old's Manhattan dream. And I think I paid $2000 for the whole summer. Oh, to be in college again! At this point in my life, I would consider enrolling purely so Mike and I could be eligible for NYU family housing.

During my summer in SoHo, Mike was living in the West Village in a teeny, tiny, sixth floor walk-up studio on Thompson Street, which he somehow shared with another friend. When he invited me over for dinner for our second date, I waited on the street below, nervous and excited. It was then that I heard a faint whistle from above. I lifted my head half expecting to find a creep making a nasty come-on (which was typical of the neighborhood). But instead it was Mike, telling me he'd buzz me up in a sec. At that moment, I thought nothing of the fact that he obviously lived on the top floor. That is, until I walked into his building and was unable to find the elevator. Fortunately, I liked Mike enough to endure the six flight trek to the top, which I finished huffing and puffing at his door. Once inside, the fantasy I had been living at NYU was abruptly burst as I was greeted with an actual real New York City apartment. The entire space was about the size of my bedroom in Florida. And Mike and his friend were paying more than most Floridians were paying for their mortgages. But there was something truly endearing and childlike that I saw in Mike that night--his pride in showing me his apartment. His home. He boasted its location "in the heart of the village." Then he took me upstairs to the roof, where we had a beautiful view of Washington Square Park, as if that big white arch was lit up just for us.

I fell in love with Mike quickly, and the next logical step was for us to move in together. But where?? I had just officially moved to New York from Orlando and coincidentally Mike's lease was up on Thompson St. So we moved together to a completely foreign neighborhood for both of us: the Upper East Side. We got a cute little two bedroom on 78th and 2nd that we shared with another couple. The great thing about the Upper East Side was the notoriously lower rents, as the neighborhood was more family oriented and less hip and trendy than downtown. Even still, I immediately loved it. Our street was lined with big leafy trees that formed a kind of canopy over our space between 2nd and 3rd avenue. Nestled inside were old brownstones, charming little mom and pop shops, and a fabulous sushi place. And in the middle of the block, Mike and I were enjoying our first year of living together. That first year was nice as the two of us learned each other's quirky living habits, had our first fights, had our first make-ups, nursed each other back to health from the flu, and just experienced all the true idiosyncrasies of the other person that only come to light through living with one another.

A year later, we decided to get our own place, just the two of us. It was then that we moved into what I will always consider my home here in Manhattan. 162 East 88th Street. We found a modest, railroad style one bedroom on 88th and Lex that didn't look like anything particularly special. The building was old (put up in the 1920's). The hot water was temperamental and the neighbors were kooky, but there was something still appealing about that tiny space: it was all ours. Our apartment was on the first floor, just a few steps from the train, Starbucks right outside, and even closer to Central Park. It was in this apartment that I had some of my favorite New York memories. Like removing all the furniture every November so we could squeeze fifteen people in for Thanksgiving dinner. Like having our best friends in the world live in the apartment right next door. Like Mike proposing to me. Like planning our trip to Italy. Like bringing home our puppies. Like standing in our kitchen together finding out we were going to be parents. Like welcoming Lina into her first real home. 88th Street was wonderful and we stayed there for four years. But like anything else, we eventually outgrew it. Two adults, two dogs, and a baby eventually proved to be too much for our tiny space as we began to overflow into the hallway (or at least it felt that way). So back in March, we tearfully said goodbye to 88th Street and moved to where we are now, a very cute two bedroom in the East 70's.

Everything about this space seems perfect, especially having more room. And when we moved in I saw us living here for at least a few years. But of course, things don't always go according to plan. Now we find ourselves with another baby on the way and I just can't help but look around and wonder if we can make this work here. I mean, I think we have enough space, but we live in a fifth floor walk-up. To be quite frank, I'm really not sure how the heck I'm going to get out of the apartment with a toddler, a newborn, a diaper bag, and a double stroller. Could it be that we've reached the point in our lives all New Yorkers are terrified of reaching? Actually leaving Manhattan? I just don't know. Part of me thinks we could make it work here for a couple more years. While part of me is enticed by the idea of having a big two bedroom in Queens with a backyard and laundry in the building....who knows. But I do know that for right now, for today, this is where we are and it's far too early to start calling any movers. In the meantime, let's just hope we don't outgrow this place just yet.

1 comment:

  1. Mare, I loved this post. So well-written, and it brought back so many wonderful memories..."slow walker" definitely being the funniest. (Well, to us at least.) Wherever you decide to move, I know you and the family will be happy. I can't wait to visit when I return!