Lately, Claudine has been going around the apartment saying how much she likes our home. When I ask her what she likes about it, she answers that it has everything we need. Pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
I’ve been thinking about our home a lot, now that we’ve been here 9 years. At this point it’s the longest we’ve lived anywhere, including our childhood homes. I think it’s fairly accurate to say that New Yorkers are obsessed with real estate in some capacity or another, whether it’s dealing with crazy rents, pining for more space, navigating a competitive seller’s market, ogling other people’s apartments, or scheming an escape out of the city altogether. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t count my lucky stars; a combination of good timing, good fortune, and a rather risky leap of faith allowed us to buy an apartment 10 years ago. It couldn’t have worked out better than it did considering we wouldn’t be able to afford this neighborhood if we moved here now, but we didn’t know that back then. I do sometimes wonder though if we’ll ever own or live in a house – you know, with a yard, a driveway, maybe a second floor and a pantry.
I seem to know a lot of people who are renovating old houses here in Brooklyn, the Hudson Valley and other areas of the Northeast. I look at their progress photos and admire the beautiful period details, the decorative fireplaces, the crown molding, the original woodwork, and all the charming and quirky features that our home doesn’t have. Sometimes the house envy kicks in and I find myself thinking, “wouldn’t that be nice…” A music room? A library? A garden? A huge walk-in closet with ample space to organize everything? Yeah, it would be nice.
But we decided that we’ll be in this apartment for the long haul because we see no real compelling reason to move as long as we’re here in NY, which means that this will be the only childhood home that the girls will ever know. Sure, we could use more space and I would love a new kitchen and bathrooms, but when I look at it through that lens, it hits hard because it seems like a such long time to live anywhere. This is the place that the kids will remember when they think back to childhood memories, the home they’ll come to when they return to visit from college. Maybe not quite what I envisioned considering we sacrificed charm and period details for price and a bit more space in a neighborhood filled with brownstones when we bought this apartment. I’ve never lived in a place that resembled such a box devoid of any architectural interest, but I’ve come to realize that these things don’t make a place a home – your memories and family do. So, I look forward to making this our home for awhile with the perspective that it’s “good enough”.
With the decision to stay long term comes the reality that the fabric of our community will change the longer we stay. We’ve already seen it in the past few years as some of our fellow neighbors have moved on to bigger houses, neighborhoods or the suburbs. In their place, a new wave of neighbors are moving in, most with young children or babies not yet born. And then I realize that we were them 10 years ago – young homeowners who were just starting families. Has it really been that long? Are we really the older ones in our building now? Because it doesn’t feel like 10 years have gone by, I tell you that.
With the way 10 years have flown, I can’t help but wonder where we’ll be next. I know that we won’t stay in this apartment forever. Whether we stay in the city is another story, but that little seed about eventually leaving the city that I wrote last year has taken root and I find myself daydreaming about houses again, our “live there forever till the end” house. I’m reminded again that perhaps we’re meant to be in certain places in our lives. Maybe “good enough” is the right place to be in order for us to figure out what we want and how to get there.