We have a new apartment!
On Friday night, Jenny and I signed a one-year lease for our new place, a beautifully remodeled second-floor one-bedroom with a spacious living room and sizeable master bedroom. It’s on Court Street between Nelson and Huntington (compare to our current block and notice the lack of private parking lots and shuttered lots). The only other tenants in the building are a realty downstairs and our friend Robert on the third floor. We move in July 30.
A couple of months back, I issued a slightly premature goodbye to the Gowanus Canal and its immediate environs. Jenny and I were sick of the noise, the garbage, the broken sidewalks, the noise, the creepy thug neighbors, the walk every day through the Gowanus Houses projects, the noise, the weird semivacant lots with shanties in them, and did I mention the noise? Last night, for example, our neighbors felt the need to blast reggaeton in their garden until 3 a.m.
As recently as the beginning of July, though, we were thinking that we could hang on through the end of the noisy season, when the warm weather encourages our neighbors and their friends to linger outdoors with various forms of stereo equipment cranked to the gigawatts, and save our pennies for a move next spring. But it was Yosemite’s Curry Village, of all places, that convinced us that waiting was just not an option if we wanted to keep our sanity.
Curry Village, consisting of densely packed rows of canvas tent-cabins with wooden foundations, is my parents’ preferred lodging option for Yosemite Valley. Less grotty and closer to the cafeteria than Housekeeping and less expensive than Yosemite Lodge or the upscale Ahwahnee, and offering showers (unlike the campgrounds), Camp Curry isn’t a bad deal.
But even if you haven’t just spent a few days and nights in the back country, Curry Village can seem weirdly urban. As a kid, I remember thinking that the soundscape there — utility trucks, clashing car stereos, a cacophony of laughing and shouting kids and adults, the hiss of the air-brakes on the Yosemite Valley shuttle buses — closely resembled what I would hear on summer visits to my grandparents’ Upper West Side apartment. On our latest visit, some of the Curry staff decided they would blast Korn until 11:30 at night, defying the camp security. The throbbing music and the rough construction of the tent-cabins felt painfully like being right back home again, and it filled us with dread at returning to the real thing. Then and there, we decided that we had to move as soon as possible.
Back in Brooklyn, we started looking at apartments in earnest, but the one we really wanted to see was downstairs from our friend Robert. The story behind the apartment, which Robert says has been vacant for over a year, is that the landlord — a Chinese-American woman about our age, who seems to be holding the building for her family — had it remodeled so a relative could move in, except that that never happened. So there are certain charmingly Asian features, like the little cabinet for shoes by the door, and the brand-new, super-high-powered grease vent over the stove (“Chinese cooking uses a lot of oil.”), and when we viewed the place, it was stocked with unused Asian-style furniture.
As far as we can gather, the landlord never quite wanted to face the hassle of putting out an ad and interviewing potential renters, so she was thrilled when Robert told her that some friends of his were interested. As for Robert, he’s relieved that he won’t have to adjust to some potentially creepy strangers moving in downstairs in what has been his private domain for some time.
So we’ll be moving into an apartment that has never been used since its remodeling. And what a remodeling! We were pleased to discover that there are eight circuits, which will be a nice step up from the one circuit for our current apartment. We’re hoping that in our new place, we won’t have to turn off the air conditioner before we make toast, and that we could even heat or cool both rooms simultaneously without having to find a flashlight and make a trek to the basement, as we do in our current apartment.
The bathroom has been redone in pale stone tile, with a beautiful glass-encased shower (though no bath, sadly). The living room has recessed lighting on faders, while the dining room light is a ceiling fan whose blades are fake bamboo. In the bedroom, runners have been installed for drapes.
And beyond the features is simply the workmanship. Our current apartment was more or less put together by our super, Hector, who is something short of entirely competent. Sections of doorframes are too short and don’t reach the floor. There are gaps between floors and walls. The back door fits so poorly that we have to tape it up in winter, and the window above it is plastic. There are holes in walls, leaking radiators, holes in ceilings, cabinet doors that open into nothing. The new place is a welcome contrast, with every detail carefully considered and properly executed.
So we are anxious to move. As for the move itself, we’ve eliminated much of the stress by letting Moishe’s pack everything and then schlep it. Then we can spend the next couple of months putting together our new place, and hopefully by October we’ll be fully settled in.