We live in a neighborhood-y section of Brooklyn. We rent a small apartment above a store (owned by a sometimes-loud lady on the phone, who would probably describe us as often-loud and always running around). We have two bedrooms, one bathroom. A tiny, tiny kitchen. No outdoor space. No parking. We have a washing machine and dryer, no dishwasher. Mice. No roaches (for now). Traffic noise and street lights at night. We walk to get most things we need. We usually drive to seek adventure.
In our apartment several rooms need painting. Some baseboards need replacing. There are gaps around our heaters that the last tenants covered with duct tape and painted over to hide the patch. It’s not an apartment that would incite much envy, honestly. Relatives have come and feel bad that our place is so small and so Brooklyn-y.
But everything has a trade-off, right?
We’ve talked about buying a place. Heck, we’ve talked about buying a house. My dream is to buy a brownstone that really doesn’t need much renovation. A brownstone with a small backyard, a beautiful staircase in the front room (one of those old, gorgeous, ones with thick wood), a guest room on the ground floor, a front stoop. A big, airy, modern, inviting kitchen. A place to host Thanksgiving respectably.
Sometimes when I think about that fantasy brownstone, I remind myself that we could still have mice there. There may always be a few baseboards that need replacing. I might find myself patching a hole with duct tape and painting over it. There will always be things that are slightly off. It’s just how life is. It could always be a little bit better.
And when I think about the grand brownstone with its flaws here and there, it centers me. I still want the brownstone….but it’s nice here too. :) Its nice to live in a place that we can afford. Its nice that we can spend money on museum memberships and outings in our forever-adventerous city. I *think* if it came down to prioritizing adventure or prioritizing beauty and comfort…I’d like to think I’d chose adventure. I mean, I’m sure that answer would swing back and forth depending on where I’m at…but I think if I had to give up the fun outings to live in a beautiful brownstone, I’m not sure I’d want to. Though, of course, if the brownstone was standing right there, staring me in the face, I might just change my mind. ;)
I guess I’ve just been thinking about the investment and the payoff and tradeoff of our lives right now. I’ve been feeling grateful for the amount of adventure we have. And I’ve been feeling curious about what we are sacrificing for it, if anything.
I enjoy living in the city. I enjoy raising my kids here. Someone that grew up here once told me that New York is a great place to grow up if you are different. And I could see right away what he meant and how true that could be. I think about that a lot, as I raise my quirky kiddos. I can see lots of ways that this is a great place for them. And I’m glad to be here. Though I know living here means I am sacrificing a reliable place to park, a yard, many common comforts my friends and family have.
Lately when I think about what I want from my little urban home, I’ve been aiming at “small and nice”. Tidy. Clean. Comfortable. Organized. I purge often and voraciously. I change things here and there and notice that small changes can make a big difference. For the past several weeks, my frantic work schedule has meant that I haven’t been able to keep things up around here like as I’d like. So this past weekend, while Dave was sick in bed, I puttered around. I made curtains and framed new photos and moved a few things just-so. I have a few more changes I’d like to make, but already I feel like a breath of fresh air swept through here.
It can’t ALL be about adventure after all. For this homebody, a day off galavanting isn’t as much fun when I have to come home to an apartment that feels dusty and stale. And so right now I think I know the framework I’d like to build from: small, nice, adventurous. I know I can’t always get what I want. But strange as this sounds to my 5-year-ago self, it seems like I am a lot closer to having what I want than I realized. It’s kind of nice when it works out like that.
I made these yellow curtains this weekend and plan to add more yellow in here as inspiration strikes.