“The Search” is a month-long series in which we ask one person to document their experience looking for an apartment in Brooklyn. This time, Editorial Fellow Rebecca Jennings reflects on Day 1.
How is one supposed to work on the first of the month? Until your time comes to move out of your apartment and look for a different one, it’s just like any other day. But now, each passing minute contains the weight of everything you own, stored somewhere in the numberless limbo between permanent addresses. It is the same urgency of having to pee or needing to eat. Shelter. Definitely somewhere near the bottom of that pyramid of needs that I’m having trouble recalling at the moment.
But on this first of the month, I’m not alone. No one else seems to be working, either, because in just two short hours the United States will play Belgium, and even people who don’t care about soccer still probably care about America. I care as much as anyone about both of those things, but right now the only words that seem to have any meaning are no fee, guarantors accepted, steps from L train, and cats are ok PURRR. I don’t even own cats. I just don’t like the idea of living in a place where they’re turned away.
I furiously text a few vaguely identifiable real estate agents—“Rob,” “Mike” and “Moshe” have decided not to publish their last names on Craisglist, probably for some good reason that every grizzled realtor in this city learns their first day on the job—with the same generic question, capitalized and punctuated appropriately so they’ll think I have a degree and a decent-paying job, even though no amount of proper grammar can convince someone I make more than 40 times the rent.
Hours later, the US has lost in a dramatic battle and Tim Howard’s name will be repeated for about a week and then forgotten, and I am on my way to meet “Rob” who has since revealed that it will actually be “Manny” who will meet me at a three-bedroom apartment in Bushwick off a train stop that my future roommate has just informed me she doesn’t want to live off of. So. I go anyway, desperate to convince her that it’s the nice part of Bushwick! and the stigma associated with this particular enclave was accurate maybe three years ago, sure, but come on, it’s 2014 and everything’s perfect and safe but still totally affordable, right? Right?!
I leave the train, and my spirits decline with every passing block. I am not the girl who is intimidated by this neighborhood. I am not. I am not, I repeat. Look, a KFC! That’s familiar, right? It isn’t. Even the intoxicating scent of fryer grease isn’t enough to calm my growing suspicion that this will all be a big waste of time.
I find “Manny,” who now has a face and a body so his name shouldn’t really be in quotes anymore. He’s nice, very nice, and the building is nice, and there isn’t even a broker’s fee, so I feel guilty about the fact that even if this place looked like Versailles inside I wouldn’t want to live there. I politely spend five minutes wandering the (very nice!) apartment and ask him if he knows of anything else.
He does. He’s nice. He takes me to a place that’s closer to a subway stop that my future roommate will approve of. It is also nice, again, too nice, nice enough that I wonder what we could get from living in a nicer neighborhood in a less-nice place, but it is sweltering and heat and hot water aren’t included. What is the deal with that? I’ve never had to pay heat and hot water separately in Manhattan. Until this moment I’ve loved the fact that I’ve hardly gone back there at all since living in Brooklyn, but now Manhattan seems to be so gloriously out of reach and so very far away, much like the way Brooklyn seemed during those wonderful, perfect days when I lived in Manhattan.
The next place we see is in the McKibbin Lofts. I picture a life living in the McKibbin Lofts, and I feel much older than I actually am—everyone is so young here, so painfully young and cool and Bushwhack, yo. I begin to hate it, even though these lofts are beautiful and full of light and newly renovated and impossibly affordable. How are they this affordable? I dream up all the possible catches of this too-good deal and convince myself I would never fit in at the McKibbin Lofts, and even though that is an idiotic reason not to take advantage of a too-good deal, I stick with it, and I say thank you to Manny, who has really been so nice, and now I can finally head back to Park Slope. Park Slope, where people are unabashedly uncool. I grab a six-pack of Magic Hat Elder Betty on the way home, suddenly realizing I am drenched in sweat, whether from my anxiety at what the next month has in store or from the grey block of humidity that surrounds everything in these months. Phew.
Lessons learned on Day 1: Never look for an apartment in July.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa.