Right around the time that my next blog post was “due”, Matthew and I moved from our shared apartment in Queens to our very own place in Coney Island. I am a pretty good mover at this point. In fact, I’ve done it so many times that, a year or so ago, when I was asked for 10 years of residential history for a high security temp job, I almost immediately started crying and tried to refuse the job. In the end, I spent a stressful evening “walking” down streets in google maps trying to find the addresses of the myriad places I’ve lived since leaving home for college, and subsequently a happy three weeks working for a lovely financial office. (ProTip – track this stuff as it happens. Sigh. Live and learn).
Matthew and I didn’t really mean to be moving now. When we started talking about when to make the switch from a living situation with roommates to one all on our own from which we would start our married (!) life together, we thought we’d be looking to move sometime in August.
But. I have a problem. An infatuation of sorts. I have a genetic and insatiable desire to look at real estate listings.
I just can’t help myself.
And I’m not kidding, I think it is genetic. My parents go on vacation and use the hotel cable to watch HGTV. My dad works in affordable housing and development. We are, collectively, sort of fascinated by housing and houses and design. It means we move sometimes, and remodel other times, and, more often than not, just spend a lot of time looking and dreaming. I think it flexes your “what if” muscle, to keep an eye on what could be.
Personally, I particularly like looking at listings for places that I could never have. And there are a lot of listings for apartments in NYC that are in this category – multi-million dollar, private floor, keyed elevator, pool-in-building, rooftop deck kind of apartments.
One time, I spent several months walking past a building being renovated in Hell’s Kitchen and when they finally posted the website, I discovered that it boasted access to an outdoor rooftop shower.
In Hell’s Kitchen.
I have a lot of thoughts on this and I certainly don’t feel like it’s a selling point for several reasons.
- The roof on this building is lower than surrouding buildings so someone is gonna see something.
- Its New York, so…winter.
- There isn’t any other more exciting amenity (spa, pool, etc) on the roof to justify the shower. It’s just a rogue rooftop shower in the middle of Manhattan.
Instead of making me want to live here, it just makes me sort of vaguely concerned for the sanity of the person who decided that was not only a thing to have, but a thing to highlight. I can only conclude that it’s a “I can have something no one else has” mentality and leave it at that. (but still..why?!?)
Another time, I worked near a swanky building in Tribeca where one of the main features was a specific tree count rooftop forest (like, you were guaranteed at least 30 trees in your own, semi-personal deciduous grove) and then, a major retailer moved in across the street and the ventilation system, while not intentionally aimed at the trees, killed off most of them. The residents of the building then sued the owner for some crazy amount of money because they’d neglected to deliver on the forest that was supposed to be somewhere a forest does not belong in the first place.
Things like this make me chuckle. And groan. They make me think about privilege and frivolity and what I think is important. I wonder about your life and perspective when you live surrounded by such a high level of luxury. I like listings for this reason, and, I confess, I also just really like all the pretty pictures and dreaming of what life would be like floating high on the 59th floor, above all the chaos and turmoil of the city.
Anyway. Once Matthew and I knew that we would be moving sometime within the next year, my obsession had a practical function and I gleefully started scrolling. Even though we really didn’t want to move till August. I got the app on my phone so that I could just keep an eye on things. What harm could it do? On the one hand, it’s a little like going to the Humane Society with no intention of adopting. You run a serious risk of falling in love with something that you really aren’t ready for. On the other hand, everything – ESPECIALLY real estate – moves so fast in NYC, it really feels in your best interest to keep a finger on what’s out there. What if the perfect thing happens and you’re not paying attention?
When I saw this Coney Island apartment, I thought for sure it was one I couldn’t have. It was brand new, had a dishwasher AND washer/dryer, one bedroom, new building, 3 blocks from the beach. I thought the rent was a typo. I thought the listing must be full of typos. But it wasn’t. And before we really knew it, everything just came together in one of those “You are so supposed to be here” kinds of ways and we’re both grateful that we stayed open to the right thing at exactly the right time coming for us. Matthew might even be sort of grateful for my real estate obsession.
Coney Island has long been one of Matthew’s and my happy places. We’d come here for birthdays, or days off. Hop on the train for 90 minutes with our cooler and towels, pickup Subway sandwiches, and spend the day talking and swimming and sunning before heading home salty and smiling. We’re happier people when we’ve been to the beach in a way that goes beyond just having had a nice adventure. The ocean reminds us that the world is so big beyond the city. We aren’t really built for city life. We miss the mountains and the oceans and the trees (where they’re supposed to be – not on rooftops). And now, we can walk to the water, sit on the sand, listen to the waves, and be soothed. We can breathe in salt spray and get our bare feet in touch with the earth. We can run in the morning on the boardwalk. Our commute is a bit longer, but the freedom of our own place and being able to reach out and touch the ocean has us feeling about 100% happier with our life as little birds in this big, bad, city.
So that’s where I’ve been. It took some time to move and settle and keep working and living and traveling and taking deep breaths that are now filled with ocean breezes. I reminded myself that moving and settling is hard and gave myself some grace to just do as much as I could and let the other things go. I’ll be back on a more regular posting schedule now, but in the meantime, here’s to the beginning of summer, to ocean breezes, to glasses of cold sparkling wine on patios. Here’s to giving yourself the grace to do what you can, when you can, and to always having the freedom breathe. Here’s to entering space where you smile more, stretch more, and remember the size of the world in the midst of our own small universes. Here’s to new beginnings and bold openness. Here’s to marveling at the sun and the sky and the mountains and the ocean. And maybe even sometimes, the city. ♥