Lately Tobyjoe and I have been perusing the real estate market outside of this wonderful city. I’m sure this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most. We are nearly five months pregnant and we do need to start thinking about a house, a yard, the future education of our child, our safety, conveniences, etc.
Let me begin by saying that I love New York City and I always will and no matter where we end up living, it won’t be far away from here. But I’ve become restless lately. Something has changed.
The restlessness bloomed about a month ago when I tried to wash my 31-year-old car. At the time the car was covered in months worth of dirt, salt, and BQE filth (which we live very close to). This wasn’t a problem in the past as I used to take it to the automatic car wash. But recently, given the Great Lock out of 2007, AAA used the already busted sunroof to get in, stripping it of its remaining life.
As the weeks wore on, the car became more and more filthy, to the point where I could no longer see out the windows. I tried every local gas station to find one of those window-washing units that usually sit next to the pump. To no avail. They were empty and/or ransacked or not present at all. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided that instead of taking it to the car wash and having a bunch of angry men yell at me in Spanish after having their heads covered in water, I would do it myself. I wrote my landlord to see if I could gain access to the hose, a hose I see our super (the landlord’s aunt) use all the time.
At the point of denial, I was 3 and a half months pregnant. And so on a Saturday in early February, two days after winter had finally arrived, I decided to wash the car using a lone bucket we had in our 3rd floor walk up. I decided to run up and down the stairs. I decided to wash the bloody car myself.
(I’ve had better ideas at 3 AM while blasted drunk.)
By bucket number two not only was I out of breath and freezing my tail off, but all I had done was push the dirt around. The windows looked tinted and the remaining salt had frozen to its exterior. It looked like it was covered in wax. It looked much, much worse than when I had started. I was livid and so I began to cry. I stood there, outside on the street, bucket in hand, freezing. Obscenities flew out of my mouth like cold spit. The monologue sounded something like this:
“I CAN’T [EXPLETIVE] LIVE IN A PLACE WHERE I CAN’T EVEN USE A [EXPLETIVE] HOSE. WHY CAN’T I WASH MY CAR? I CAN’T LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE. I NEED A HOUSE WHERE I CAN WASH MY OWN [EXPLETIVE] CAR. THIS IS [EXPLETIVE] STUPID. I [EXPLETIVE] HATE THIS. I [EXPLETIVE] HATE THIS CAR. I [EXPLETIVE] HATE THIS [EXPLETIVE] CITY. WHY AREN’T THERE ANY [EXPLETIVE] CLEANING THINGS AT THE GAS STATIONS AROUND HERE? [EXPLETIVE]! AND WHY CAN’T I EVER FIND A CAR WASH WHERE I CAN [EXPLETIVE] WASH THE CAR MYSELF? [EXPLETIVE] COIN OPERATED! WHAT THE [EXPLETIVE] IS WRONG WITH [EXPLETIVE] BROOKLYN, MAN? [EXPLETIVE] OUR ASSHOLE LANDLORD.”
I was raging mad and Tobyjoe tried to calm me down. (Seriously, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen an angry pregnant version of me. Couple that anger with the feeling of unfairness, and you have yourself one furious, bitch of a woman.) Eventually, the two of us just threw our hands up and went to get something to eat. (He knows that food will shut me up right now.)
Since that day the moments that make up everyday living have been put under intense scrutiny. I am not nearly as forgiving of New York City and Brooklyn as I was 6 months ago. That day set in motion the irritation pileup.
We already have trouble living here. We can’t afford to buy a place and even if we could I’m starting to wonder if I even want to. Is it worth paying 400 thousand dollars for a 350 square foot apartment with no access to a yard? Is it worth paying almost a million dollars for a brownstone in a fairly sketchy area hoping the property value rises? Do I want to deal with a co-op? I keep thinking, “For 400 grand, we could buy something much nicer an hour outside the city.” Perhaps I’m being too practical, too hard on New York, too spoiled.
Now that we have a child on the way and I’m no longer making decisions based one what I want, my priorities have changed right before my eyes. Suddenly being in a great city near a booming main street with lots of bars and restaurants is no longer that appealing. Instead, I am becoming more and more intrigued with that parking lot that sits 10 feet from the door of a local, suburban diner. I’m even thinking about places like Papa John’s and a line free Trader Joe’s. I’m dreaming about the place where I can put a few coins into a machine and wash my own car. I’m dreaming about a house with a pottery wheel and a small kiln. I’m dreaming of a place where my kid comes home smelling of grass stains, his fingernails sheltering dirt. I want her to come home with a cocoon or a turtle, a jar full of fireflies, a head plump full of fresh air. I want to wake up next to blades of grass I can lick the dew off of. I want to fall asleep to the sound of crickets. I want our snow to stay white for more than a day.
It is going to come with great sadness when I do finally leave this city once and for all, (which is probably far off given we have no down payment). But once the baby is born and it’s not just Toby and me anymore, I’m going to have a hard time justifying living here. And that’s just it, Internet. The part that has changed the most in me during my pregnancy is the amount of room devoted to what I’m willing to forgive. The door that once shielded me from the things that chisel away at my patience is no longer working, much like the stripped sunroof of my poor, filthy, 31-year-old car.