Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the one

After twenty-six years of apartment living, and after four months of searching, after crying to Bryan's parents that at times I think we're drooling lunatics for even thinking of leaving Brooklyn, we found the ONE.

It came on the market Thursday, we raced down to see it Friday afternoon, well I was going to go solo Friday morning but after five hours' sleep and nerves jangling, for the first time ever went sun-blind moving the car at 8:30AM for street-sweeping and crashed into a double-parked car and even though the rheumy ancient fellow sitting in the undamaged car waved me away and said in broken English to forget about it I went hysterical and was too traumatized, dramatized, stressified to drive, so I had a nap and dragged Bryan out of work early, we drove down in the in-laws' Camry, me tucked safely in the passenger seat, walked in and immediately knew it was Our House and that anyone else who made an offer would essentially be stealing our home, we just had that Feeling, that one you hope for when home shopping, so we fell all over ourselves filling out paperwork, made a bid over asking price because we were finally serious, nearly had our heads explode waiting to hear, but then finally they accepted our offer after some late-night back and forth over certain things back in Brooklyn Friday night, and then Saturday morning the sellers signed the contract and, and so we are in contract.


It has a big (by our urban standards) yard, four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, a master suite including an office for my writing pleasures and a master bath with a Jacuzzi tub. It has a full basement with another little office area for Bryan’s musical frolickings, AND it’s in the school district I was yearning for, AND it was reasonably priced, within walking distance of one of my oldest and dearest friends, and just by blogging this, I am acidic with fear that somehow it will still slip through our fingers, even though it's already passed inspection and we are as in love with a pile of stone and plaster as anyone could be.

I would and possibly should be using a buttload of exclamation points but I can’t find them. They are lost or hiding among the thousands of boxes making mini skyscrapers all over this apartment, stacked in front of the windows, eclipsing the sunlight. Anyway, I want to denote my state of mind, which I will call “exhausted disbelief, mixed with hungry excitement and irritating irritation that we’re not living in the new house yet,” since our apartment is currently a frigging mess—those boxes, clothes not put away, dried kernels of rice scattered across the kitchen floor... It’s like, not our apartment anymore.
I’m itching to trick out the new place, already recklessly tearing pages from Domino Magazine… but don’t worry, Good Buyer! We will clean the place for you. I will even wipe down the fridge.

Oh…wait, I think…Holy Shit! WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!! Okay, there are those exclamation points. I knew they were around here somewhere. They’d fallen between the piles of files and the box of dusty toiletries we haven’t touched since 2002 but still might need someday.

It’s a 1925 Sears & Roebuck Bungalow kit, which is cool, right? It's funky and quirky with that magical flair that speaks to us.

The master suite, which is not pictured, was added in 2002. The fireplace works. The kitchen’s not eat-in, but we love it to death still. It looks thoughtfully planned, not like it was slapped together by a cheap'n'greedy seller, you know, the ones that boast "granite countertops!" but look schlocky and cheesy but you hate to swap it out because it's brand spanking.

We’re planning to move in mid-March, after Hamish’s birthday, even though we close on our apartment in mid-February. We like the idea of living on the streets for a couple weeks. Oh well, actually, we'll be staying with the grandparents.

What else is there? Our beloved realtor (no that's not an oxymoron, we LOVE her) keeps warning us about buyer's remorse, but so far we are stupid with glee, and hopefully I'm not jinxing it by telling you this. As much as we've been stressing over outcomes and fearing that everything will fall apart if we blow on it, things have gone as smoothly as we could have hoped. Thanks are in order, to each other, our realtor, our buyer, our seller, the fates... THANKS BE. And there's a guest room for YOU.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


It's official. Our buyer's buyer got approved for his mortgage, and last night I accompanied our buyer, the soon-to-be tenant of the apartment in which I sit typing (she even wants the desk!) to the bowels of the building to meet with the board and win their overwhelming approval. We hugged three times afterwards. I'm in a loving state of mind. What can I say, I guess beneath the almost crippling anxiety about leaving Brooklyn, I am excited to embark on this latest adventure. We close at the end of February. Hopefully we will find a house to buy by then, not that I mind rooming with the in-laws, but well, you know.

Amidst my fears that there will be no like-minded people where we're headed, but only Republican-reared sugar- and TV-addicted spoiled smartmouths, I had a revelation that wherever you go, if you look long enough, you will find pockets of people you identify with. This is the epiphany that will allow me to sleep at night. I am misty to leave my friends and family, and fear being isolated and alone. That's my biggie. Not worrying about whether Bryan will find a job or if the schools will satisfy. I worry about my social life. I gotta put my stress somewhere. Oh and I worry that somehow any coolness factoring into my identity is all tied up with being a New Yorker, granted a New Yorker who seldom ventures into Manhattan, but still. But I believe that truism that wherever you go, there you are, and so I know that I will take the cool with me. I will put it, and you, the thought of all you cool cats here who I adore, and stuff you into my Sevens, and take you with me. Stella will stuff you into a lucite box and stow it on her head, because she's her own kid, but I will do the pocket thing. And while you're in there I will begin to pack the cardboard boxes I started collecting this morning, which makes it all feel so finally, heart-thumpingly real.

Monday, January 14, 2008

jazz hands

I'm at Hamish's preschool this morning, hosting another tour, and we're observing school in action, which in this vignette includes the pig-tailed tattooed teacher sitting on a chair facing the kids, who are sitting in rows on the rug before her, like obedient little pupils, until they start shouting, "poopy diaper!" which oughta shrink the wait list.

Rachel* introduces a new sign language word today, it's the sign for "wonderful," which consists of waving your open hands on either side of your head, kind of like how I might gesture if Nate Berkus rang my doorbell.

Hamish interjects. He says, "Hey! Rachel! RACHEL!" He's so good at remembering to raise his hand when he has something to say. He copies the sign, and says very informatively, "That's the sign for jazz hands." I share a knowing smile with Rachel, okay, actually I'm beaming, proud of what exactly I'm not sure, just the humor of the comment, and the prospective parents flanking me on either side giggle because they know how precious this moment is, and I decide right there, they're all in!

Rachel looks at me and says, "Maybe it's jazz hands in your family," and smiles because she doesn't miss a beat, jazzy or otherwise. And even though Hamish doesn't know why it's funny, does not understand the campy irony of jazz hands, it's one of those moments I pocket for the future, and practically speaking, now I know for sure that the impromptu dance numbers we do in the living room are not going unnoticed or being forgotten. 

Thursday, January 10, 2008

either way i'm okay

This morning I hosted my first preschool tour for prospective parents (it was lovely and informative) and chatted afterwards with one of the current parents, a cool-cat musician. We asked after each other’s families (he just had a baby, mazel tov), and he asked about Hamish, who has finally climbed out of his clamshell to the point that he didn't even kiss me goodbye this morning, but ran straight outside to play ball with the older kids (I kvell!).

He asked about the status of our move, and how my husband Bryan (also a musician) is doing, and as I began to answer, the tears came pouring out. That cathartic cry I’d been hoping for in my dark lonely moments at home arrived instead in the sunlit cubby area of my son’s preschool. What are you gonna do?

I told my friend that Bryan is sleep-deprived, done with Brooklyn, burnt out from his 9-5, and ready to embark on a new adventure. And me, apparently I’m Waterworks Miller at the mere thought of pulling Hamish out of preschool to move two hours south. Suddenly hostile car service drivers seem charming. Dog shit dotted sidewalks bring out the hopscotching nature enthusiast in me. “Ooh look! That one’s marbled! Orange and green!”

This conflict of interest creates a gap between my husband and me. This is the first time I’ve really articulated my feelings, and we’ve been snapping at each other lately. Of course it doesn’t help that Stella’s been waking at five A.M. most mornings to nurse.

An Atlanta-bred dad I met in the playground the other day, a network analyst, put it plainly that he can’t wait to leave this overcrowded, dirty urban patchwork for greener, cleaner climes, But even his sane anti-Brooklyn argument didn’t register in my brain as I wept to my new friend this morning. Because Hamish’s preschool is spoiling the shit out of me. Everywhere I turn, there’s another artsy, scrappy, down-to-earth, easygoing parent, and I have convinced myself that such people, in such dense numbers, simply don’t exist anywhere but Brooklyn.

But I still want to leave my immediate hood, and I still can’t afford the ones I want, and a check-in with myself upon returning home revealed that I am possibly making a mountain of misery here out of the simple belief that I will feel like a lonely misfit anywhere else. And in a way, I’m okay about it, because I know it’s not supposed to be easy, and it’s a good thing in a weird way that I’m sad to leave, it reassures me that I’m not running away, but running toward, and even if I don’t know the answer now, it’s out there, waiting patiently. The decision will get made with or without my interference, the outcome has already revealed itself in an alternate universe and either way, I’m okay.

Bickering aside, Bryan and I are united as a unit can be, and we won’t make a decision that doesn’t satisfy both of us. We’ve been together what, almost eighteen years. We must be doing something right.