She Did Not Hate Living in Brooklyn


Apartment hunting in New York had not improved in the sixteen years since she’d left. A bedroom was sometimes a room that their dog bed would not fit into. Real estate guys would not show up. The couple heard about a loft in Brooklyn that had a number of pluses. Good square footage, big windows, a view of the NYC skyline from the bedroom, a decent price. A loft! They went to see it one sunny afternoon and made a handshake deal; yes, they could wait a few months for some rehabbing. A few months went by, they went back to the loft one night to take measurements. At night, the street, a dark dead end under the BQE, looked like a place hit men met mobsters to take them out. The ceilings were lower than she remembered. There was a welding shop on the ground floor directly below the loft. The front window looked directly onto the BQE. Directly out the back window, in front of the view of the skyline, was a sizeable power plant. The two flights of stairs, with a short landing in the middle, were tall, narrow (if your heel was flush against the back of the stair, and you wore a women’s size nine, the front half of your shoe would hang over the edge), and steep. Exorcist steep. No way could she do this every day with the dog. Were those stairs even wide enough for the dog’s paw?

I can’t do it, hunny. I’m so sorry. I feel so terrible for making us wait but I just can’t.

It’s okay, hunny, he said. I was never crazy about it. I thought you liked it.

They searched again in their price range, which was low, and they were moving to New York City and what were they thinking. She wanted her husband to have his dream of being an artist in New York, she suggested New York, they tried it for a few months, and she was ready to leave. She’d already been an artist in New York.

I want to go somewhere where it’s easy, she said. She knew, knows, that’s not really a thing.

Where will that be? he asked.

Kalamazoo? she said.

Nope, he said. Michigan maybe. Someday. When we retire.

The husband somehow found them a sweet one-bedroom walk-up in Clinton Hill. Nice moldings. Bay windows in front. Nice light. Weird neighbors who boil rats in the trash bin and raccoons staring into the windows from their fire escape. New York! Fireplace mantels in the living room and bedroom, decent ceilings, a small office area, bedroom somehow big enough for their king-size bed, kitchen you can cross in half a banana step, one small closet. But that’s what carpenter husbands are for! He would build a closet and a bathroom cabinet and a window seat in one of the bay windows and the moldings on the window seat would match the moldings on the walls and it would look like it was always there. The wife had always wanted a window seat. The couple moved into the sweet Brooklyn apartment and the wife sat in the window seat and read books and watched sunsets and fireworks. They went to Prospect Park with the dog, movies at BAM, to the flea market up the street and the salvage shop around the corner. They found neighborhood spots, fancy donuts around the corner, fancy pizza down the street, a corner deli, a corner deli guy, and a corner deli cat. Brooklyn was perfect. In Brooklyn she could breathe, in Brooklyn she could see the sky, in Brooklyn there were people, but not so many that she wanted to shove them out of her way. The wife earned her living as a teacher and a writer and the husband worked as a carpenter six days a week to get the rent paid on their sweet Brooklyn apartment and his art studio that he had almost no time to go to. Their Brooklyn rent was double that of their entire house in Chicago. They lived there for a year and a half, and then they bought a house upstate.

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