You Can Go Home Again

In a few short hours, Lifelongnewyorker leaves for the airport to go … home?   Well, back to Alabama.

During the visit to the real home — defined as any place where Mr. NYer, the two cats, and the Abandoned One live — she has had to hold her tongue a few times and refrain from referring to the apartment in Alabama as “home.”  It’s a bit disorienting.

Thankfully, Staten Island missed the “Snowmageddon 2010” storm that hit Washington, Baltimore and up into New Jersey.  Perhaps two or three inches fell here, while just to the south friends in New Jersey got a good deal more.  It still felt like winter, though, with the temperature a lively 18 degrees this morning.  A peek at Montgomery showed 52.  Ahh.

Being home, even for just two nights, had its rewards.  Cats.  Cats in lap, cats padding chest, cats nosing the hand, wanting to be petted, 16-pound cat sound asleep on back during the night.  Food.  Mr. NYer prepared one of my favorite meals on Friday and whipped up two of his signature eggplant omelets this weekend.  Sleep.  In my own bed, with my husband. 

Lifelongnewyorker felt a rush of pleasure walking through the door to a clean and more spare house than she’d left.  The moving sale didn’t move many of the big items, but it helped the guys to pare down the possessions.  Mr. NYer packed up pictures and small items; the Abandoned One has made significant headway, too. 

We descended to the basement to confirm what was to happen to the stuff hunkered down there.  Much to my relief, much of it was easily decided:  some would go with the Abandoned One to his new apartment, some to the Salvation Army, some to the trash, and precious little with us.  Only two boxes, with old files, had eluded judgement:  we lugged them upstairs for review.

And that’s how I came to spend much of Saturday afternoon reading through every paper I ever wrote, beginning in 7th grade.   Some, from Mr. Roach’s classes in high school, revealed that my worldview and politics haven’t changed much:  in 1971  I wrote about the need to replace fossil fuels and cut down on energy consumption.  In another paper, I examined mass transit policies that would replace cars in cities.  There were two major papers on John Vliet Lindsay, one looking at his candidacy for the Presidency.  (After all, he’d  already been mayor of NY, which as his campaign button proclaimed, was “The 2nd hardest job in America.”)

Then I came upon the college papers and realized just how much I’ve  forgotten.  I came upon a blue book from a philosophy course — I was a philosophy major — and read, with some astonishment, an essay distinguishing synthethic from analytic statements, replete with the phrases “a priori” and “a posteriori” scattered throughout.  I’d once known this stuff?   Other papers discussed Kant, Descartes, Leibnitz, Wittenstein and Vonnegut.  Apparently I once had thoughts on phenomenology.  Not only did I not remember most of this — although I like to believe that I’ve integrated it into my thinking on a very deep level — I couldn’t even remember some of the courses.  Dr. Reuben Abel?  The name sounded familiar, but the face could not be summoned.  Nor could any details of the classroom or any of my fellow students. 

The grad papers, mainly in history but some in education, occupied more familiar ground.  Yes, I did know a lot about 19th century reform movements, the Burned Over District, and the growth of cities.  Most of that stuck, and I still find it fascinating.  Just ask me. 

Fascinating or not, the piles of onion-skin erasable paper went into the trash bin of history.  If I have contributed to human knowledge, it’s been through my teaching more than my scholarship.  Except for Prohibition Park and NDA itself, but those are each another story …

The Abandoned One looked through a trove of art and writings from his prehistory.  On special occasions he would record his thoughts by dictating them to me.  I wrote these down in large printed script.  Thus we read his reports on the  Pink Badge and Green Badge parties from the Great Kills Swim Club, the trip to Sesame Place, and summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.  Mostly he wrote about food.  The art ranged from crayon scribbles to gilded macaroni.  He chose the best and will send it to Alabama with us. 

The Abandoned One found an apartment this weekend, and is happily planning his move.  Together with two Oberlin friends, he’s moving to a parlor floor in a Crown Heights brownstone.  It has a new bathroom, a full-size refrigerator in an actual kitchen, and is, he reports, full of light.  Even his bedroom, which has no windows.  It’s right on Eastern Parkway, a few blocks from where my sisters went to high school 45 years ago.  He’ll have window seats at the Caribbean Day Parade. 

Eager to have somewhere to put our stuff when it gets to Alabama, Mr. NYer and I tried to decide on which house to buy.   We’ve got three strong choices, each with some wonderful features, and all of which we think we’d be comfortable in.  Of course, each also has a major trade-off. 

Should we buy the updated 1925 house with lots of character, a huge veranda, a screened-in room and lots of light?  It’s also the one where the 2nd bedroom’s wall are  upholstered–literally–in French silk,  putting the room off-limits to the cats, and where the 3rd bedroom with bath is outside in a separate building. 

Or  perhaps we’ll take the 1952-era home with the wonderful addition on the back that features an open-plan kitchen/great room, a master suite with its  own study, and a guest wing that can be closed off from the rest of the house when not in use?  The downside here?  The house next door should be condemned and looks  like a meth house.  Oh, and there’s no covered parking, something that you want to have in the South.

Finally, there’s the new construction, a single-family cottage in a new development that’s in the older part of town.  It’s got quality finishes, a separate bath for each bedroom, a two-car garage, and a park-like community with pool, tennis courts and fitness room.  Oh, it also has an elevator.  Down side?  Not much private outdoor space, no separate study/den, and top of our budget. 

We alternate on which we like the best, then we rule one out only to rule it back in again the next time we consider the possibilities.  Right now, we’re back down to two, but it wasn’t the same two we were down to two hours ago.

Stay tuned. 

 PS — Dear Reader, if you like to read this blog but depend on new posts via FB, Lifelongnewyorker would appreciate it if you’d subscribe to the blog.  This means you’ll get an email with new posts, and I won’t have to post them on FB.  Thanks!


5 Responses

  1. Tough choice for the winning new homestead. Which one has the best gardening potential? Personally, I’d rule out the 50s house. Bad neighbors can make life hellish even in the most idyllic setting.

  2. >>The downside here? The house next door should be condemned and looks like a meth house. <<

    Sounds like our situation. Inhabited by various creepy women and, towards the end, pit bulls. The landlord finally kicked them out, fixed it up on the inside, at least, and is in the process of selling it to a fellow Deming Public School employee and her daughter. Before this development, we seriously considered approaching the people on the other side of them to go in with us to buy the place and tear it down.

  3. I have no idea what FB is – but email reminders sound nice. Sign me up.

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