Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Great Apartment Hunt Pt. 9: Our Patience Pays Off?

After seeing this Jetsons-esque high-rise we all piled into my car, after a perfunctory debate about whether I or Karen should drive. Karen got into the back, and guided us about ten blocks north, more into the heart of Bay Ridge. There was no legal parking to be found, so we parked in front of a hydrant, as I had seen Avram from Hamotzi Realty do several weeks before. If we’re only in an apartment for 15-20 minutes—which is how long these things seem to take—then the odds of a cop coming by, at night, are pretty slim.

The next place Karen showed us wowed us in a different way than the place with the sauna. She called the super, Emilio, and a pleasant, southern European man, in his mid-40s, opened the front door for us. Whereas the last place had the high-tech sheen of the 1980s this place was a bit more old school, but every bit as nice. It had a more classic Brooklyn look. The lobby floor was made of polished black and white marble squares, and filled with well-kept old furniture. It had the grand effect of a sumptuous, old hotel lobby. The door to the elevator was rich, brown wood. Yes, I thought, now we’re talking. Even though the holidays were receding into memory there were still Christmas decorations ringing the lobby, both store-bought and from children that lived in the building. This is the Brooklyn I want to live in, I thought. (We would see about getting some Chanukah decorations in there once we moved in.)

Emilio, for some reason was apologetic about the rundown state of the place, although to me it looked as clean as a hound’s tooth. Neurotic supers are a good thing, I thought. The whole effect was comfortable but classy. It felt, already, a little bit like home.

Then we saw the apartment.

It wasn’t a high-tech marvel like the prior one, but it felt more like where Randi and I would like to actually live. For starters it was much larger. The other place was about the same size as our present apartment, if not slightly smaller. This place was considerably bigger. The living room just kind of kept going. It was like a real living room that real people live in America, not the Barbie Dream-House for adults that I’d grown used to. Also, although it was a one bedroom the actual bedroom itself was large. The bathroom was spacious, with a nice, deep tub—which my wife would love, because that’s kind of her thing. It too had an entryway like the accursed Ditmas Park apartment, and the hallway leading up to the apartment was in tip-top shape. It had an archway that separated the bedroom from entryway, and, to me at least, it seemed comfortable, clean and elegant. It was also $1400. I liked it, a lot.

Plus, it seemed more like us, somehow. We’re not really a deck-hanging, sauna-going couple. We like a slightly cozier atmosphere; the prior place kind of reminded me of the Tokyo hotel that so upset Scarlett Johansen in Lost In Translation. This place seemed like where a couple could raise a child.

We thanked Emilio and walked out to our next appointment that night. Smiles all around, things were definitely looking up.

From there we went even further into the heart of Bay Ridge. Karen knew of an older couple that was renting the top floor of their brownstone. Again I parked in front of a fire hydrant, and followed the broker upstairs.

The owners ended up being in their mid-70s. Right away I felt that they already looked like grandparents. It was hard to not feel kindly toward them. Again, the rent was $1400. Which might've had something to do with the fact that I told Karen on the phone that our limit was $1400 a month.

The older man, Frank, volunteered to go watch over my car and move it in case the law came around. Which was nice.

Once upstairs, we saw the apartment and it was the largest of them all. True, it had a kind of nasty beige carpet, and there was no laundry in the building, but it was extremely spacious. The fixtures weren’t exactly new, but they were certainly in good working condition. What would be the master bedroom was also extremely, extremely large, with gable-style windows.

After checking it out for a few minutes we walked downstairs and joked around with the older woman, Helen, about having kids, and cats, two of our big obsessions, it seems. The couple had lived there for decades, raised a family there, in fact. They just seemed so sweet, but even so I wasn’t sure if we wanted to live in a place without laundry, and with a couple that would always be watching our coming and going, even though they seemed nice. Although I can’t imagine that with a kid we’d have goings-on that are all that crazy. Maybe, you know, a play-date might run a little long. It ain’t exactly Plato’s Retreat.

I got the keys back from Frank, and drove back to the first building to drop off Karen. We’d seen three apartments, and three solid choices. One was a futuristic marvel, one was kind of posh and one was homey. It would be hard to determine which one we liked, but I was leaning towards the second one. Randi agreed, and we told Karen that we would like to follow-up with that place first.

“Okay, I’ll call the owner,” Karen said. “He’s been out of town, but he said he’d like to rent the place right away.” This sounded good to us. The second place on our list was with the older couple, and the third, depending on the price we could get would be the high-tech place. But it was nice to have a selection, for a change.

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