Sitting Here in Limbo

I’VE LANDED in my friend’s daughter’s room, vacant since Liana moved to London. It’s cozy here, with my pile of belongings in the corner, private bathroom, and great wireless connection. I feel like I’m traveling, in the neighborhood where I’ve lived for 30 years.

But there’s a fine line between peripatetic and pathetic, I realized as I pushed a shopping cart filled with the valuables I didn’t want to entrust to storage (family photos, jewelry, etc.) over here the other night.

The move out of Dean Street yesterday went fine. Six weeks in preparation, it took 4 men 4 hours to load a duplex worth of furnishings onto a truck and take it off to a warehouse. I lingered at the empty apartment after they’d gone, shedding a few tears and taking a few pictures.

This will be hard to replace

This will be hard to replace

Then I went to look at an apartment in Cobble Hill. I’ve narrowed my search now to a parlor floor – that IS the best part of a brownstone – though I’d prefer a different neighborhood, a slight change of venue without a major culture shock. Say, Fort Greene (which one broker sniffed was ‘overpriced,’ and based on what I’ve seen there, he may be right) or Prospect Heights, which was astonishingly beautiful the other afternoon, when I went to see a parlor floor on Prospect Place, laden with gorgeous woodwork but narrow and brutally chopped up into small, dark rooms (overpriced as well at $2,500).

Good address: Prospect Place between Carlton and Vanderbilt

Good address: Prospect Place between Carlton and Vanderbilt

The problem is architectural travesty and it’s widespread. I’ve grown to shudder at the Craigslist buzzphrase “gut renovated.”

The 900 square foot parlor floor on Henry between Kane and Degraw in Cobble Hill ($2,300) had the

Fluted Corinthian columns, hopeless layout

Fluted Corinthian columns, hopeless layout

proportions I’m looking for, and the detail (nice plasterwork, right, no mantels) but, oh, the stupidity of the layout. I can live with a minuscule kitchen and bath, both tucked into the space at the back of the front hall, but not with the sheetrock walls and closets with hollow-core doors popping out of the once-grand space to divide it into three un-grand parts.

Today, I see two others, more if I can find them. Meanwhile, the Springs closing is delayed by a C of O situation involving the screened porch and an “open permit,” adding to my sense of limbo. It’s the seller’s responsbility to fix; we’re waiting on an inspector from the Town of East Hampton, and God knows how long that will take.

Suddenly, I’m clinging to my cell phone, my laptop, my car. I even felt enormous affection last night for my gym locker, waiting there for me with all my own stuff in it.

I take heart from some kind and astute phone calls, e-mails, and comments I’ve received, one from a reader offering her Brooklyn place as a sublet. She made me laugh with her own tale of renovation gone wrong, which at one point left her “with a 42″ Viking range but living in my car.”

MazeDancer offered astological advice which I agree with but am finding hard to follow. “Stop looking at apartments,” she wrote, because Mercury retrograde and Saturn return are not good lease-signing indicators. Just as it’s hard to stop compulsively looking at sidewalk tag sales when you already have too much stuff, it’s hard to stop looking at apartments when you’re homeless.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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3 Responses to Sitting Here in Limbo

  1. Liana's Mom says:

    Liana’s Mom is very happy to have Cara even temporarily as a roommate!

  2. BrooklynGreene says:

    Well, we’ve been thinking of you! I have to thank you for all your reflections and the willingness and generosity sharing them.

    I hope I’m not just living in the old days, but look, I’m sure you can find a Fort Greene parlor floor for less than those rents listed above! I’m really going to help move this along. Honestly. Since I’m in FG I’ll talk to some of the locals and see what’s floating around and even not possibly on the market yet. I’ll post some leads soon on your blog.

    The only issues in FG is that there isn’t that much available at any one time and also a lot of the parlor floors are part of either a duplex or triplex (owner occupied or rented). But, I’m sure you’d get a real kick out of the neighborhood and the 5 minute walk down to the LIRR would be a plus if you’re going back and forth a lot.

    I know this sounds dumb, but have you thought about some sort of semi-house sharing? You know, something with enough space so each house/roommate has her own domain but then a shared kitchen. It can be very tricky but also a wonderful living situation. It also might be a good alternative-ish lifestyle because you may end up on the South Fork much of the time.

    Just a thought…might save a bundle, have a touch more sense of security having someone “home” when you’re away for long stretches, and you might end up having a terrible go of it and losing your hair so I won’t even suggest it any more… ;-)

    By the way, I wonder if that Mazedazer was full of you know what regarding the astrology thing. The financial advice was probably sound but the astrology c…p probably isn’t a good way to run your life.

  3. cara says:

    Thanks, BG, for offering to try and scare up a Fort Greene parlor floor for me. I’d say, better hurry, because I’m seeing two or three apartments a day myself (though none in FG).
    The housemate idea is a non-starter – I’m not in college anymore. I love living alone; don’t feel the need for company or have any desire to share a kitchen. Finally, I’m a fan of the astrology crap myself (I mentioned it first; MazeDancer was just responding).
    I do appreciate your taking the time to compose those long, thoughtful comments though!

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