good enough

March 7, 2014 |  Category:   home life


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.

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  • Roseann March 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I love this. Claudine is wise beyond her age, not yet susceptible to house envy. Which really is a silly thing if you think about it, only made worse by pinterest. In 11 years my husband and I have lived in 7 different places. We are in apartment that is much larger than our last, and much quieter. We have everything we need, yet we can’t help but focus on the things that drive us crazy. The mold spot in the corner of the living room where the roof used to leak. The light outside our bedroom window that our neighbors control and frequently leave on all night. The bathroom. But it’s cheap and we’re saving money, and parking is a breeze and it gets amazing light and with rents rising in the Bay Area we couldn’t have this much for so little anywhere else. So we must practice patience and eventually it will be a story we can tell.

    • Jenna March 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      yes. Not only Pinterest but pretty much all of the internet and social media. Remember when you’d only know what someone’s house looked like by actually going inside?

  • Janine March 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

    We left our much loved but imperfect home of 13 years 18 month ago. We have now bought a similar but smaller and even more imperfect home in a much more expensive town ( three times the price!). It is probably where we’ll stay forever. Our children,now 8 and 11 will prolly have most of their memories from this place. I miss the feeling of ‘home’ we had in the last house but it is definitely the accumulation of memories there rather than the fixtures and fittings.
    Although this house is small it does have some nice original features and is in a great location. I definitely have house envy but this place is good enough and we have to work hard to make it a home and just enjoy living here.
    I agree with Claudine that your home is great. I wish I had your eye ( and Nelson lamp ;))

    • Jenna March 10, 2014 at 3:25 pm

      I’m sure you’ll build great memories there Janine. And I’m a big believer in location being just as important as the house itself. Congrats on your new home!

  • Rachel March 8, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I’m nowhere near having children, but I often wonder what kind of place my boyfriend and I will be living in whenever it happens. Right now we live in a completely un-special apartment on a busy street, and I’m always on the search for new places to live, but we can’t really afford to move right now. Sometimes I worry that we’ll never be able to move, and that I’ll have to raise kids in this crappy one-bedroom…or worse, that I’ll have to move back to Minnesota and give up on dreams of raising my kids by the ocean. But then people compliment our apartment, and I mean, hell, we’re IN Los Angeles, which was one of my biggest life dreams, so I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. I wonder if house/apartment envy ever goes away. My guess is that The Grass Is Greener Syndrome exists no matter where you’re at.

    • Jenna March 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      I doubt house envy ever goes away, no matter what age or what phase in life you are. You never know what will happen. 12-13 years ago before we were even thinking about kids, we were also in a small apartment and had our oldest there until she was about a year old. I doubt back then we even knew what we wanted for our future, let alone how to get there!

  • Marlena March 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I love that your daughter loves her home. What a great story.

  • jen March 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    i don’t think house envy ever goes away. we doubled our square footage and absolutely love our home and so do our kids. but i still have house envy.

  • cocopuff1212 March 11, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I call it the Pottery Barn Syndrome, this strange pressure we feel to have a spacious, stylish home always free of clutter. It was the worst in the L.A. area. Not so much where we live now, a D.C. suburb. Hawaii was the least afflicted of all the places we’ve lived. After moving six times in 13 years, I’m finally at a point where I don’t feel any need for “more” or “better”; a home is just a box and I just want my family in it. But it took me a long time to get here.