|Tom on a stoop in the Slope.|
Two weeks ago, Tom and I went to see an apartment in Park Slope. We had already seen close to thirty and Tom’s apartment theory states that the more you see the closer you’ll come to finding what you want (and not be afraid that you’ve settled – so yes, a lot like dating*). We had gotten used to saying to friends, “We’re only looking in Chelsea and Park Slope,” which gave off an unintended whiff of snobbery, but in practice, we were mostly looking in Park Slope since our budget, the same in either neighborhood, afforded us more space there.
It was a very promising apartment in a very well maintained brownstone in a very good location (Carroll and 5th). Everything, from the front stoop (not the one pictured above) to the entryway to the remarkably clean carpeted steps that led up to the second floor unit, made me think, “This could be it, this could be it.” The apartment itself was unbelievably spacious with a bright living room that boasted three large windows and a separate dining area and a large kitchen (which however could have used an update in the cabinetry) and an even larger bedroom that fit two dressers in addition to the queen sized bed.I could imagine the parties we would throw and the Christmas tree in that window there and my writer’s desk at the other window here. Two grey cats stretched out lazily on the couch, bringing to mind future Sunday mornings. I smiled knowing that Tom and I could easily coexist in the same one bedroom apartment while pursuing our own individual interests because there was space enough to do so. He could watch old war movies while I wrote or read thanks to the thick walls, a long hallway, pretty double French doors. And all this for a few hundred dollars less than what we were prepared to pay.The broker, a stolid mannish black lady, nodded. It was one of those units that would rent itself. She said very little except, “It will go fast.” I thought, Well we better jump on this. But Tom, more seasoned at apartment hunting, nodded quietly, matching the broker’s stolidity. I searched his face for signs that he too, thought the apartment was great – he must! With all this space and light! Three windows! But he said nothing and walked from room to room until there was nothing more to see or evaluate. At least not then.We shook hands with the broker, took from her an application and said we would keep in touch. We walked down the well-maintained steps, down into the entryway with the clean carpet and the ornate door and down again onto quiet Carroll St., where the trees were beginning to bloom, making the air sweet. The only noises were the light airy laughs of young children playing Friday afternoon games. We walked a few short blocks to the train and noted another requirement met: proximity to the subway.
“What did you think?” I said to Tom as we took seats on the train, “It’s probably the best apartment we’ve seen and might ever see for our price range, desired move-in date, location and space and light requirements.”
Usually quick to say, “No, I disagree,” Tom said instead, “Yes. I think it was a great apartment.”
The train rattled on towards Hell’s Kitchen. I looked at Tom, wondering why I wasn’t saying, “Well let’s submit an application and take it!” I had liked the Park Slope apartment a lot but was hesitant too. I wasn’t sure why. I wondered if I only wanted what he wanted.
“The only question now is,” Tom said, “Brooklyn or Manhattan.”
We were en route to see one last apartment of the week, this one in Hell’s Kitchen, in a much rowdier albeit familiar neighborhood, not too far from where Tom lived now.
We got out at 42nd St. and were blasted in the face by bums and traffic and hollering. Smells. But it was familiar. A few minutes later we stood in a bright and spacious second floor apartment, with a feminine white broker man who had the same stolid mannerisms as the mannish black lady.
“It’ll go soon,” he said primly, clutching his briefcase.
We believed him. We were almost overjoyed to see that such a space existed in Manhattan and for such a price. Despite the chaotic bustle outside in the street, the apartment was quiet and had just as many windows, just as spacious a bedroom. A window in the bathroom. We thanked the broker and said we’d keep in touch.
Back on 9th ave., Tom turned to me.
“Brooklyn or Manhattan,” he said again.
We headed downtown on foot to meet friends for dinner.
Manhattan, we both thought.
The Hell’s Kitchen apartment was rented a few days later, but we weren’t disappointed. We refocused our apartment search to Manhattan only. If there was one apartment like that, there would be others. It would just take time. After all, it took finding the perfect Park Slope apartment to realize we wanted to stay in Manhattan.