On August 25th the lovely Miss Hoadley and I gave up our apartment of five years on the Upper West Side and moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We were smart enough to hire movers this time, so for me at least the day amounted mostly to sitting around nursing my hangover and making fun of Gerrard.
It was definitely bittersweet saying goodbye to our old place. Believe it or not, I’d never lived anywhere for that long. My grandmother and I moved around a lot when I was growing up. Our old apartment was also three buildings away from Central Park and the museum mile, a few avenues away from Riverside Park and the great bike path…and in NYC! I’ve dreamed about living in the city and having a 212 area code since I was a little kid. Every time I stepped out of the door of our building I felt like I was tapping into some great vein of energy. It was hard giving up on that dream.
On the other hand, I never really fell in love with the Upper West Side. First off, everything was expensive. Sandwiches, light bulbs, anything you can imagine. Over time the few extra dollars here and there can really add up. Secondly, the neighborhood vibe was definitely more upwardly mobile stroller pusher than young and fun. It’s not that there weren’t any young people around, just not the type of young people I tend to vibe with. The people I met in bars (although I never found a perfect neighborhood spot) were more likely to be iBankers than artists. That’s not a knock on anyone, I’m definitely an upwardly mobile cube farmer who wears a tie to work. I just have a tendency to get along better with artsy types.
Our rent also continued to climb drastically every year. We moved in during the rental downturn and got a decent deal. Our landlords were determined to get back at us for that.
Of course, the thing I hated most of all about the old place was the inability to play anything at a normal hearing volume. I won’t lie; as a kid I blasted my music so loud that my neighbors probably should have called the cops. I grew out of it and tried, as best I could, to be considerate in the new place. It didn’t help. We were actually threatened with eviction from our old place because I had to nerve to practice guitar out of my little computer speakers in the evening and on weekends. The unhappy neighbors, the only ones who complained, actually called to moan about the noise while I was watching Seven Samurai one day. Unbelievable! It got to the point where I basically could not practice without wearing headphones. Watching movies was a frustrating exercise in remote control jiu-jitsu so that the volume stayed loud enough for dialogue to be understandable without risking homelessness if there happened to be an explosion in a certain scene. It sucked.
So, we’ve been in the new place for about a month and a half or so. At this point, I’m delighted with the move. Our place has a bit less storage, but it’s much more open and bright. Anyway, less storage just gives us an opportunity to fight our packratitis. My band (more on that later) practices in a rehearsal studio a block and a half from our apartment.
One of my favorite bars, Alligator Lounge is a block away. It’s a great little pseudo-dive where you can get a quick drink and a free oven roasted personal pizza. I never had a “neighborhood spot” on the UWS!
Our neighbors are generally younger and universally more fun. Not only can I listen to music at a decent volume, I can actually play with my little practice amp! I never even turned it on at the old place.
Walking around the neighborhood it seems like every other person is carrying a guitar or a canvas. Everyone rides bikes. Do I have to deal with a lot of hipsters? Sure. Who cares? Are hipsters somehow more annoying than yuppies? I don’t think so.
My forty-five minute commute on the Subway is now a 12 minute bike ride. I haven’t been on the train since shortly after we moved. I don’t even have a Metrocard anymore. A complete side-effect of the move and completely awesome.
The best part of all though is that now my favorite people can hang out with me all the time. What could be better than that?
Oh yeah, our rent got eight hundred dollars cheaper. That doesn’t hurt, either!
I guess I’m starting to ramble, so let me summarize. I will miss Central Park and I’ll probably never get over the feeling that BK is a lot more like LI than NYC. Heck, it IS on LI. Surprisingly, I am missing the luxury of having a doorman. It’s nice having someone always there so receive your UPS shipments. I’ll definitely miss telling people I live in “the city”. Regardless, I’m extremely happy. I wish we’d moved a long time ago.