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In 2006, I moved from Boston to Brooklyn. I was looking for a nice place with a nice roommate and that’s what I got.
I was impressed by the two minute walk to the F train, the cute Windsor Terrace neighborhood and the apartment itself. It was on the second floor of a Brooklyn brownstone with my sweet landlady living below. The apartment wasn’t updated at all, but it had charm: hardwood floors, bay windows in my room overlooking little gardens, and tons of privacy.
Privacy meant my roommate and I shared a kitchen and bathroom, but we each had a spare room besides our bedrooms. In other words, we didn’t have to share a living room. That was pretty awesome for me, since I was already in my late 20s and searching for more privacy (without paying astronomical rent prices). My bedroom and spare room were separated by sliding doors with stained glass panels--very trendy and hipster, I thought. I instantly felt like a Brooklynite.
Outside the brownstone were mom and pop shops and young couples pushing baby strollers. I could walk to Prospect Park in less than 10 minutes. A new café opened right along the park, offering decadent cupcakes, scones and other goodies.
Then spring came. The rain came. And so did the awful waterbug problem. Waterbugs are hideous members of the cockroach family. I discovered my first when my roommate’s cat had something squirming in her mouth. She put it down on the floor and to my horror, the waterbug scrambled in my direction. That was the first of many waterbugs that scurried across my floor as the cat chased after them. No matter how many exterminations my landlord’s son did, they came back in full force every spring.
A year into living there, I started to hear whiny, cooing sounds in the middle of the night. Not from one animal but several. I looked out my window to my landlady’s outdoor space to find a family of raccoons invading the garbage. They would come back every night, loud and hungry. This all seemed very National Geographic until I found out raccoons are vicious and unrelenting, even ripping apart dogs and cats.
Meanwhile, I have come to despise the F train and everything about it. Though the walk to and from my train stop is brief, it is poorly lit at night—a bit worrisome for a single, young woman. The track is always under construction. Nearly every weekend, I have to find an alternate route or wait forever for a train. It stops so frequently that it takes an hour to get to my job on East 45th Street. Compared with the easy, breezy other train lines of the city, the F train--or the F.U., as it should be called--is nothing but a hassle. And then there's rush hour, which means jam-packed trains, train delays and many silent prayers of "please let's get this train moving so my boss doesn't rip me a new one."
Train aside, what I’ve come to like the most is that gentrification is in the air. A couple new restaurants have opened—both cheap eats and yummy food of Thai and Brooklyn pizza cuisine. I found a wine/beer bar with fancy sandwiches in the vicinity. I now take advantage of walking 45 minutes to the 7th Ave/Park Slope area for atmosphere, the main library and Wienerschnitzel at my favorite Austrian bar.
If I had known then what I know now, I would've taken more time in the apartment search to find a sweet deal at the northeast end of Prospect Park. Instead of the effing F train, I could've lived near Grand Army Plaza and had my pick of the 2, 3, or 4.
When my lease is up, train line is definitely going into my consideration for my next move and any other future move I'll make in Brooklyn.
Then & Now explores how time illuminates the pros and cons of an apartment--and how what draws people to a place isn't necessarily what keeps them there.