Pulling Up Roots
When it comes to moving, I don’t.
I’ve always been a bloom-where-I-am-planted kinda guy. This has been the case since the day I was deposited back in the city at the (now long gone) 14th Street exit of the FDR, having hitched back east from my 10 week trip around the continent in 1970, and I stood there, at the foot of bleak Con Ed-fested Manhattan, knapsack on my back, sleeping bag under my arm, wondering: Should I really go back to Pad Six and my life in NY, or should I head straight to Port Authority and keep on going? But I chose to return to the East Village, and I never looked back.
Now, 41 years later, I’ve spent my entire adulthood in one town and two boroughs, and my entire life on these two islands.
I’ve stayed in each of my apartments as long as I could, and grew not by moving around but by living a kind of isometric life, pressing hard on whatever was right in front of me as a way of getting strong. For the most part, it’s worked.
It may shock some people, but I’ve never owned a home, just as I’ve never owned a car. So when it comes to the material goods money can buy, except for collectables like books, videos and music (in all its formats), I’ve traveled this life light. When I’ve had the money, I’ve spent it on experiences, mostly of the self-improvement kind.
But now it’s time to move again. I don’t like to move. No one does, perhaps, but except for the pain medication I look forward to having my doctor prescribe this time, I’ve always dreaded it.
Every spring for the past several years, as our rent-stabilized lease was about to expire, we’ve considered moving, especially as the three flights of stairs up to our apartment seemed to inexplicably grow steeper. But the truth is, although I’m not quite sure what we’re doing in this neighborhood, we’ve loved our apartment since the day we saw it. The thousand square feet. The two bathrooms (couples take heed). The great views with all the trees in front, and the huge garden next door in back. The access to the roof for summer sunsets when we’d bring up a couple of beach chairs, a CD player and a bottle of wine. Not to mention the library directly across the street. The only thing it’s lacked are thin walls through which we could slyly broadcast our sex life.
But a strange thing began happening starting a year or so ago. A yawning and spooky abyss has grown in front of our house. One by one those great trees on our street that were right in front of us have been demolished. One by the tornado-like storm that ripped through Brooklyn last year, felling the old proud oak just to our right. One by some strange disease that made the city call in the Calcutta Cutters to saw it down. One by that freak snowstorm we just had in October.
I wrote the above paragraph last night. And then — I swear to this — this morning I enter the living room and Shelley says, “If you want to open the window again, you can. I had to close it because the tree-cutters were out front making a racket earlier.” I look outside, and sure enough, another old tree, the one right by the old oak, lay in ruins by the curb, like a fallen hero with his legs cut off and placed alongside his torso. It had always seemed fine to me, but maybe it had a disease or something.
And maybe this all means nothing, but at the moment I choose to read it as a message: Great green and venerable things of beauty are dying or being killed one by one right before your eyes. Get out while you still can!
On top of this, since July, of course, there’s been a much greater issue: Shelley’s been having a real problem negotiating the stairs. So what I’ve been resisting for years is now an imperative.
I counted and this will be my 11th move since I was born; my 6th as an adult. Except for those sad guys I went to high school with who are still living in the same house they grew up in back in Great Neck, I don’t know anyone else anywhere near my age who’s moved as infrequently.
Shelley and I are determined not to settle, and to find a place that feels as special as our current abode. Preferably in a neighborhood currently accepting ageing hippies.
So listen, if you hear of anything for rent in Brooklyn that’s cat-friendly and has two bedrooms (one for my “man cave” as Shelley puts it) and two bathrooms and oh yes, Shelley wants lots of closets, 15 or 20 if possible, be sure to let us know, won’t you?
Looking forward to that Percocet…