Yesterday I went out to the Rockaways for the first time since we put my dad’s ashes in the Atlantic. I went out there to do a couple of repairs in a friend’s bathroom. The trip took almost an hour and a half from door to door.
On the ride across Jamaica Bay it made me think about how at the same time last year we were trying to buy a house in Far Rockaway, and of the time, money, and effort that went into that. It was one of those Rockaway bungalows, with a big hole in the floor.
We didn’t get the house, and the ride yesterday made me think of how lucky we were not to get it. I would be commuting at least 3 hours every day if we had.
It’s beautiful out there, I love the ride across the bay and I see these houses on the water and it makes me wonder what it was like during the hurricane.
It’s beautiful up here in Hamilton Heights, too, and not as far from midtown.
I lost my job last February, and have a lot less money on hand and it would have been a struggle to pay the mortgage and the repairs needed for the house and whatnot, so that’s another good reason to breathe a sigh of relief at not getting the house.
Then we had to move out of our loft in Brooklyn due to gentrification, fair market value caught up with us. Years ago I was living in my father’s apartment in Hell’s Kitchen and after I put him in a nursing home the landlord wanted me out and took me to court. It was a great deal, less that $400 a month for an apartment on 47th street, and I fought to keep it.
I hired a lawyer, a little guy named Andy who told me right off the bat that tall people were more successful than short ones. I should have looked for another lawyer right away. But the other thing he said that stuck with me was when we were discussing my options he said:
“You might have to move to one of the outer boroughs if you lose the case.” He said outer boroughs like it was something dirty, unthinkable, you poor bastard; you might have to live in Brooklyn…
Well, I lost the case, and moved to Brooklyn where I lived for the better part of the last 11 years.
Brooklyn changed, and became the hot spot, the place where all the rich white kids could walk around in beards and Red Wing boots hand in hand with waif-like girls and listen to Mumsford and Sons on their iPhones. They needed lebensraum. If you don’t know what that means you probably have one of those faux-hillbilly beards. So people like us we had to go, to make some lebensraum.
I remember how sad I was to have to move out of Manhattan those many years ago, the lawyer Andy sure let me know it was a sad thing to be relegated to the outer boroughs. That’s the word he used, relegated.
And now we’ve been relegated to Manhattan! From Brooklyn, of all places!
Wherever we go, it’s still us, Danusia and I, and we’ll make the best home we can for ourselves, as long as we are together. That’s pretty lucky too, to have each other. I know so many people who have no one, or someone they are unhappy with.
Losing my job threw a big monkey-wrench of fear into my complacent little world, but again, I am still me and I discovered how resourceful I can be in any given situation, and not having a 9-5 job has helped me in my writing endeavors, so again, you could count that as a stroke of luck.
My friend Maggie died last year, and the funny thing is that she’d become a real-estate agent in addition to being a writer, and took great interest in our house-buying adventure, and also in my budding blog. She was a great influence on the structure of this blog and I thank her for it.
Her death and funeral brought me closer to another friend, and her new friend, Ezra, who asked me to go out to Rockaway yesterday to fix that bathroom in his kid’s apartment.
I put in a new toilet flapper, pictured below.
So that’s the best thing about last year, after many years of little change in my life I was suddenly confronted with what are considered the three most major issues we face, the loss of a job, moving suddenly, and death, and I came out of the other side in one piece.
Thank god for wonderful friends. And my lovely wife, Danusia. Happy New Year, friends.
Lovely. Lovely. Lovely Danusia, and lovely Maggie. It wasn’t a lovely year, but we know not to expect that, do not we.
I’m so glad i was just now able to spend some time catching up on your writing, Xavier. I actually like when I haven’t read it in a while so I get to binge out on it. I used to do that with Maggie’s blog, too. Happy New Year to you and the lovely Danusia!