RAINY SIDEWALKS FULL OF SOGGY GARBAGE. Racing to move the car by 8:30AM or risk getting towed away. Crowded buses creeping up Flatbush Avenue. Ah, it’s good to be back.
No, really, it is. The weather was spectacular my first three days back in Brooklyn, and it feels almost like I’m traveling in a new city — London keeps springing to mind — even though I lived here 30+ years before buying my cottage on Long Island a year-and-a-half ago. I’m sure the novelty will wear off, but right now, I’m enjoying exploring my new neighborhood of Prospect Heights, especially the restaurants, cafes, and bars along Vanderbilt Avenue. It’s all new to me: the trendy Australian-owned Milk Bar, where you can get whole grain toast piled with strawberry butter or mashed avocado, and the unpretentious Joyce Bakery, below, very welcoming on a gray morning.
My block is lined with classic, elegant brownstones, and I’m extremely pleased with my garden-level apartment. It’s all a pied-a-terre should be. My main worry, that it would be too dark, has not (like most worries) materialized. The north-facing back bedroom, under the owners’ deck, is indeed cave-like; I wake with no clue what time it is. But the south-facing living room gets lovely warm light that moves from the white marble mantel across my beloved hooked rug, to spatter the opposite wall, painted Benjamin Moore’s Dalila, a strong sunflower yellow, in the late afternoon.
The space feels very familiar. I’ve lived in so many mid-19th century Brooklyn row houses, where the details and proportions are all of a piece. The ceilings are high, even for a garden floor, the parquet is in excellent shape, the window moldings and four-panel doors and wood shutters and iron gates are all original and intact. The kitchen is in the right place (the center of the space) and attractive for a rental apartment; the built-in bookshelves are a godsend. The bedroom, though light-challenged, is huge, and I’ll be painting it too — peachy-pink to warm things up.
My move on Monday was uneventful, except for their having to unscrew the chrome base from the 8-foot-long sofa to get it in the door. Since then, I’ve been unpacking my stuff from storage and filling the car for my maiden voyage back to Springs with items I’ve got no space or use for here. Clothes and shoes (so easy to toss, with the hindsight a year-and-a-half of storage fees will give you) are going to LVIS — the Ladies Village Improvement Society thrift shop in East Hampton. Other things I’ll put in the basement for next spring’s first yard sale.
The book I’m reading in between cartons, and late at night when I’m too wired from unpacking to fall asleep, couldn’t be more appropriate: Life Would Be Perfect if I Lived in That House, Meghan Daum’s amusing memoir of real-estate addiction. I’m relating on many levels to her tales of compulsive house-shopping, frequent moving, and shoestring decorating, feeling smug that my own case is a tad less severe.