I’m writing this from our new apartment in Riverdale. We live right across from Van Cortlandt Park. Not only one of the most beautiful green spaces in New York City, but also – and we’re finding this out now – quietest. The only sounds we often hear are cars driving along Broadway, the occasional sirens or trucks and crickets. That’s it.
It’s a far cry from Northern Manhattan, where we lived most our lives (for Luis it’s been his entire life) and where we thought our kids were going to grow up, too.
When we first moved out here, we were scared, already plotting a way to sell our place and move back home.
“We’ll do two year – tops,” I told Luis, already skimming Zillow and Trulia for apartments near our old place again. Luis nodded in agreement. He more than anyone – at first – didn’t give up on that dream.
I, on the other hand, struggled with what was it that we were leaving behind. Yes, our worn out dream of our kids growing up where we did, but other than that – what else was there? Our old hangout spots were gone (more on this later), along with several longtime friends and some of our most loved ones. Although my mom and sister-in-law still live nearby, my mother-in-law passed away several years ago, and Luis’ other siblings were dispersed and tending to their own families. Even my best friend, who introduced us and lived in our neighborhood way before me, had left over two decades before. She never looked back.
Maybe we should do the same?
Despite physically living in Inwood, we were tired of so much of what was going on – the high rents, noise, landlords. Plus, our family was growing fast. Prior to moving, we spend over three years looking for a place in Inwood. Three years. Everything was either too expensive or too small, and nothing was ever in between.
So we did what a lot of people in our shoes are doing these days – and moved to the Bronx.
We found our home rather unexpectedly. We made an offer on one place nearby in Riverdale, but were shot down after a brief negotiation round. We were devastated. Three years of looking in Inwood, plus a shot down offer makes for a desperate situation. We were taking turns seeing new up to four apartments each week. “The next place one of us sees – that we like – we make the offer. It doesn’t matter if the other person doesn’t see it.”
It sounded crazy, and fortunately I’m with a man that supports and actually loves my crazy, so we went with the plan assuming that the quicker we jumped on a place the higher our chances.
Well, it worked for us.
Luis saw our apartment early January last year and made an offer. He called me quickly. “I really like this one for us,” he said. “You think I’ll like it?” I said, feeling crazy when I asked. “I think so,” he replied. “I already know where you can put your desk to write.”
“So make an offer,” I said. “I already did,” he said.
We closed nine to ten months later (passed the board review with flying colors) – and that was when I first saw our home.
I was so nervous prior and convinced seeing it before closing would jinx the process somehow. I trusted that Luis knew me well enough to pick a home that defined us and my working corner.
When we closed, signed all paperwork and got the keys, we literally sped to our new home. “You ready?” he asked. I took a deep breath: “Yes.”
Boy – did Luis deliver. It needed a few repairs, but the layout and yes – the corner he picked for my desk – were perfect. We completely moved in several months later, after painting, furnishing the space and the kids wrapped up school.
My desk window overlooks our neighbor’s terrace, surrounded with plants and art – very much how our terrace is evolving with my mini garden. The other neighbor below has colorful lights and candles draped along the window and a beautiful outdoor patio set. Another neighbor’s window has a Buddha statue with some other wooden figures, similar to the crystals and globes I have looking out of our window.
Our neighbors – I now see – are truly a reflection of where we are now in life. I could glance across and notice so many similar touches to their terrace and homes as ours.
These days, with months decorating and bringing warmth to our home, we don’t go back as often. We’re embracing a different future ahead; one that’s slowly really becoming where we need to be. Sort of. Maybe. I still haven’t unsubscribed to Trulia and Zillow yet.