Goodbye Brooklyn… For Now

Sam_selfie_103014I did not want to like Brooklyn.

There is a lot to not like.

I have observed a lot about Brooklyn from a below-street-level garden apartment. I’ve listened to the tinkling of cans and bottles at 2 AM as a homeless man rummaged through the garbage in search of recyclables.

I’ve monitored constant traffic working its way around the double-parked cars on our block. The irregular, but never-ending, honk of horns punctuates the background music of truck roars and brake squeels.

Yesterday, somebody was sitting on the stoop next door yelling into his cell phone. From his idling automobile, double-parked nearby, came the pulsing throb of music. The rumble of lobstermen’s trucks heading to work at 3 AM in Stonington is a lullaby in comparison.

There is a lot of everything in Brooklyn

You name it, Brooklyn has got it. In spades. Restaurants and food, for starters. There is 24/7 home delivery of meals (thank you FreshDirect) as well as any kind of ethnic cuisine. There is home delivery of washed, folded and ironed  laundry and every mode of pet care. Great museums and theater (dozens of options; how to decide?) are a few subway stops away. Even sports teams supply culture.

Everyone is looking for that slight advantage

People are always jockeying for something. Subway riders jostle for space. Pedestrians struggle for the shortest route down the sidewalk. Commuters hail a cab in the middle of the street. Everyone is trying to gain a slight advantage in every daily activity. Does having a lot, and having a lot of choices, inspire more desire? It certainly inspires competition. The friction between people and their activities is palpable.

Or looking for something

A few days ago, I was sitting on a bench on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade overlooking the East River, New York harbor and the BQE (that’s the Brooklyn Queens Expressway to you). My laptop was balanced on my lap as I tried to write this blog post. I must have looked like a local.

First I was approached by two Swedes who wanted to discuss real estate prices. I spoke knowledgeably about monthly rents and sale prices (insert “too high” here). Subsequently, eight French tourists stopped in front of me to ask for a group photo and guidance to the subway. I took the photo, with the new World Trade Center in the background, and gave them directions to Borough Hall subway station. I hope they found it.

Sixty percent of my grandchildren live in Brooklyn

Yet, I will miss some parts of Brooklyn. Sixty percent of my grandchildren live here (the rest on the West Coast). I will miss my three little girls (courtesy of my older daughter). I will miss the life that she and her family have carved out in this concrete jungle. I can see myself with a small apartment in this teeming place. I can envision regular trips to visit.

I am looking forward to slowing down in Maine. I am looking forward to a walk in the woods with no one for miles around. I am looking forward to smiling at people on the sidewalk. How will I respond to the quiet of Stonington? We’ll find out soon and that will inform how long and how frequent my trips back will be.

Photo: Sam snaps a selfie on the Brooklyn Promenade. The Manhattan skyline and the new World Trade Center are visible in the background.

Editing: Debbie combined two of my Brooklyn Promenade riffs to create this post.

7 Responses to Goodbye Brooklyn… For Now

  1. Ayleash October 31, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    Funny you should mention pet supplies and seeking advantage in every moment side by side here. As a somewhat accomplished dog trainer (only my own, which numbered 4 at once for a while, now back to two terr(ie)ors), I can say this is what dogs do: seek to “win” at ever moment they face… and if they lose, there’s always the next moment.

    I try to set life up so they win by doing the actions I want… and they get nothing positive by doing that which I do not wish them to do… It’s a challenge, especially when the win might net them a pizza crust in the gutter. (That seems more attractive to them than just about ANYTHING I can offer, but if I get inside their head early enough, I *can* (usually) manage to get them to make the “right” decision.)

    Thanks for your humorous posts, cuz!

    • Sam November 4, 2014 at 8:34 am #

      Thank you, Cuz.

      If only my Brooklyn family had spent 10% of their child training energy on training their beautiful labrador retriever…then Debbie would allow me to host her (the dog) in Maine.

      With apologies for a delayed response, please stay in touch.


  2. Andy Franklin October 31, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    Sam, I wonder if your “garden” apartment is the same one Sam Franklin lived in for a couple of years in lower Park Slope. Probably not, but I think I can envision your living situation.

    While the excitement of all that chaos might have been okay for a month, I could not live there full time – just too much stress associated with competing for everything.

    Your posts are great – please keep them coming.

    • Sam November 1, 2014 at 10:21 am #

      Andy, we were in Brooklyn Heights on Schermerhorn. Our niece and her family live in Park Slope in a garden apartment. They have a great setup.

  3. Honor November 12, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Sam and Debbie– welcome to Bklyn!! When you’ve spent more time here, you’ll see that it’s not all noise and competition. We lead a very quiet, uncompetitive life here. I think more than anything city living requires patience– things do take longer to get done because demand is high, supply sometimes low, and efficiency not so great. But hey! you’ll be right across from Trader Joe’s and down the street from Sahadi– what more can you want?

    • Debbie November 13, 2014 at 10:16 am #

      Honor, I love Sahadi!! And yes, looking forward so much to our forays into Brooklyn and getting to know it better. One of my goals is to learn the names and locations of every neighborhood and be able to recite them: B’lyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Clinton Hill, DUMBO, Fort Greene, Vinegar Hill, Gowanus, Greenpoint, Park Slope, Bed Stuy, Bushwick, Williamsburg, Red Hook, etc.


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