Every reasonable person would know not to marry their love interest only after two dates (in my case, I learned that from experience). It is a common sense. So, how come New York real estate makes you to commit to an apartment after only one or two viewings? An agent rushes you to sign a lease as if the apartment was a “ripe to breed” bride of a certain age with her clock desperately ticking. You come to the wedding dressed up, nervous as you are about to marry a perfect stranger and discover that the bride’s mother is an alcoholic and the father can’t tame his temper. “Well,”- you think. “I can bear that. At least the bride should be all right”. Well, she is not. When you take her to the newlywed bed, you discover her pluming is not where it was supposed to be.
But lets look at things in the right order.
I had an extraordinary luck to live in Manhattan for 15 years. It was a luck combined with my perseverance, endurance and taste for pain. If I had learned anything during those 15 years it is that living with roommates picked from Craigslist should be abolished. Not that I had a say in that matter. The good thing about it all – I could write a novel about 25 types of roommates I had encountered and 4 types of landlords.
The building I was living in was inconspicuous, one could never judge from the outside how tense a legal drama and beautiful rental poetry it contained:
I lived on the second floor, the arrow is pointing right to my bedroom window. See how the building’s top is basking in the morning sun? The privilege of living on 2nd floor in Wall street area is that one never gets direct sunlight in her windows. Undisturbed by sun for years I had observed mating habits of the neighbors directly across the street and watched evolution of Rosella’s Pizzzeria awning. Or, you might say, disintegration. All in a cinematic close-up.
Near the building is a parking lot, unused by cars and people since 2007. It is beautifully turning into a badly needed Downtown Park, well taken care by rats and hordes of water bugs. Water bugs as a horde has intelligence and purpose beyond human comprehension. At nights they form an army that streams across the sidewalk towards unknown destination and few hours later the water bug army returns with an invisible to human eye loot.
The Downtown Park:
Not so fast. The Downtown Park will be turned into a 56 story hotel in just a couple of years. The man who sits on it is waiting for the right economic winds to pick his project’s sails.
To balance out the inconspicuousness of my old building Frank Gehry had decided to build something more spectacular. So, right across the street from it he built this 76 story, what some call, “stainless steel symphony”:
“Stainless steel symphony” it might be to some, but to me it looks like a woman who is going to opera in a silver $200 000 evening gown with sneakers on. What is that cheap Trumplike structure doing under the “symphony”? Oh well. After paying $200 000 for the gown, the woman’s husband had only $5 left, just enough for the sneakers.
Put together, the two structures match quite well. The old and the new. The shabby and the shiny. The brick and the steel. The gritty and the gentrified:
It is the gentrified that pushed me out. The prices go up in the neighborhood when “steel symphonies” go up. I am not upset. It is how it works. The tiger is hungry and you either be eaten or run away.
I run to Brooklyn.
- I need lots of space and I need it for cheap.- I told the real estate agent in Brooklyn.
- I have just what you are looking for, – the agent replied.
He took me to the 7th floor and opened the door. The first thing I saw was this:
A fire started my chest. I was in love.
The next thing I saw was this:
So much uninterrupted, unshared by roommates space. It didn’t matter that the place was cluttered with the remains of the bad divorce from the past. I wanted it.
In comparison my old space looked like this:
Of course, I still love my old place, 15 long years of interesting history, a special connection to people who lived there before and with me, and a personal ghost that visited me every July, but if I was not able to hold on to it, then a new place with a view should be a good alternative.
Little did I know about the bride’s plumbing.