It isn’t much, but its mine for as long I can get along with the landlord.
These days, that’s saying a lot.
You see, when I first decided I was tired of going solo, my mate and I thought we’d just go out there and find a nest we could call our own. One that was free from memories of relationships past. Not so easy. As our wedding date neared, we scoured Craig’s List, trying to find the perfect place. We searched everywhere, but to no avail.
So we set up house in my tiny apartment, with the idea that it would just be for a few more months. But before we knew it, 1+1=3. The birth of our child meant that our place was now even smaller. Tiny babies take up HUGE amounts of space.
But we made the best of it. For three years.
Then, totally by chance, we found a place on the same block we were already living on. The neighbors were amused by our moving via shopping cart and whatever other wheeled contraptions we could find to move our things down the block. But it was ours. Finally, two bedrooms large enough to actually move around in. Our child actually had her own room instead of sharing ours. And for us, the opportunity to explore having pockets of space that we could each call our own. This paradise was ours for about four years.
Then the gentrification wagon rolled into our section of town.
Suddenly, we discovered that our little paradise was sitting on prime real estate. Our landlord decided it was time to get a market rate for our place, instead of the reasonable rent we’d been paying. We had to move. Not eventually, not maybe. We HAD to move ASAP.
Needless to say, looking for a place in NYC in the middle of summer was not fun. Too many changes were hitting us all at once. Longer commute, possible school changes, getting to know an area all over again. And fears of being rejected. When my mate and I tried to find an apartment after our child was born, we started to notice that not every rental agent was happy to see a mixed race couple with a very mixed looking child. There were places we called first and confirmed a showing, only to discover that the place was not available once we arrived and they got a look at our child in her carrier. We were a bit worried that the same thing might happen again, complicating an already complicated situation.
Not this time. This time the issue was advertising. A two bedroom apartment must, in our opinion, actually have two bedrooms. Not a space that could be used as a bedroom. An eat-in kitchen must actually have walls. Not a general space that could be a kitchen, or a living room, or a hallway, or anything else you could imagine. We searched and searched. Eventually we found a place that seemed to fit the bill: close to public transportation, a doable commute to school and work, stores and hospital nearby, and a decent landlord. Oh, and more space than we knew what to do with. All for less than what we would have to pay if we tried to hold on to paradise Manhattan.
So, we moved: by van, by shopping cart, by car, and by taxi.
It has been about four months. We celebrated our first Thanksgiving and Christmas in the new place, complete with a big home-cooked meal and guests, something I never had the chance to do in the older places. I even have special places in this new apartment where I can shut myself up and read or write, if I want to. Space to dream. The entire neighborhood is mixed with every nationality I can think of, so we no longer stand out. No one stares at us when we go out with our child. We are all happy not to be noticed; being exotic can be tiring, and my tolerance at being given disapproving looks for walking with a man that some think isn’t the right color isn’t what it used to be. But here, no one looks, no one judges.
Finally, we are home.