I didn't even remember that I had a category called Queens for a Day. I love when past me lines up with modern me. I will probalby be making more use of the category in the coming days (months and years?).
As I've made abundantly clear, there is a lot I will not be missing about Brooklyn. I collect links intending to say something pithy about them at some point (or rather, just posting to Facebook) but it's less about my lack of astuteness than time because every single day I wake up to something new and horrible.
Today, it was the misplaced Starbucks angst surrounding my subway stop that I didn't use this morning anyway because I'm taking the world's lamest staycation this week (I was clothed, by which I mean wearing a bra, for less than four hours today, which happens when you don't shower until close to 6pm) and people shitting their pants with anticipation over Crown Heights' (the neighborhood with the borough's highest rent increases vs. last year) first foodie extravaganza, designed for those who get off on standing in lines for buns formed out of fried ramen.
What kind of links do you see about Queens? (That don't involve Long Island City, which is practically midtown, or Ridgewood, which is Quooklyn, of course.) Hmm...sex trafficking a block from my new apartment? Oh, there’s this from 1992, which explains the garden apartment phenomena.
"This was the first appearance of such a development at this scale in New York City and perhaps the country, a supremely civilized solution to moderate-cost housing."
My building (assuming I don't still get rejected from the co-op board--perhaps I'm speaking too soon like someone blabbing about their pregnancy in the first trimester), Linden Court, is considered the first garden co-op, not just in Queens, but the nation. Then again, the rest of the country doesn't really do co-ops, so that kind of goes without saying.
And yeah, I'm still surprised that I can afford something so affordable. Buying this apartment, a modest one bedroom that I'm starting to fear was overpriced even though it's subjectively cheap, is the only way I can put a stake in the ground before I’m worse than ignored as an aging woman, but barred entry to NYC altogether. Unless I've miscalculated or been led astray, my monthly payment will be crazy low, lower than renting a one bedroom, $1,700 less than I'm currently paying, plus the future tax deductions.
My building and those like it were, and are--for the moment, at least-- true middle-class buildings in a true middle-class neighborhood. In my 16 years here, Queens has resisted Brooklynification, but that might not be the case for long. "The Hunt" this week profiled a couple (no ages given, which was odd) with a $400k budget who settled on Jackson Heights despite not sounding that happy about it. There were bidding wars, which is very Brooklyn, and they were motivated to take the neighborhood seriously after seeing a spread in Kinfolk of an enviable Jackson Heights renovation of an enormous apartment orchestrated by a couple comprised of a creative director and a poet, also very Brooklyn.
There is a public board called Jackson Heights Life where three years ago a poster almost got a beat down after asking where they could find a "Brooklyn-like bar" in the neighborhood while invoking the H-word. There is a non-public group called Jackson Heights Families where a poster wanted to gauge interest in Cross Fit classes for kids and there was much excitement. So, Jackson Heights: the new Park Slope/Carroll Gardens, not the new Williamsburg/Greenpoint.
Part of me is relieved to move. That part can't get out of this place soon enough, with its windows that don't open enough to let in a breeze (or maybe it's normal to sweat in 76-degree low humidity?) but just enough to let a fat cat too dumb to know she's on the sixth floor to try and escape. There are two months left and I'm not sure if that's a short time or a long time. First the one kitchen ceiling bulb went out. I could deal. Last night, another. Now it's dark and I don't care enough to seek out a ladder. I also don't want to mop or clean the blinds. Why bother? (I do want that $3,000 deposit back, though, because that's a pretty nice new stove or a cheaper stove and a fridge. I've all but given up my dream of the $4,000+ Bluestar range that comes in 750 different colors, including the dirty purples I want to do my kitchen in.)
Part of me is scared. The move is kind of circumstantial, not some statement as much as I love declaring Brooklyn dead, dismissively. I’m at a place in life where I can buy, a place much further along than all of the decade-younger couples who seem to do it no problem at a much higher price point (ugh, price point), but not in the parts of Brooklyn that are desirable. And I prefer Queens to Bay Ridge or Brighton Beach or that no man’s land along Ocean Parkway, if only because the food is better and I’m closer to my office and friends who almost all live in North Brooklyn (perhaps not for long as the area toxifies with garbage people). I could certainly afford to rent a non-luxury apartment in Brooklyn (I'm losing my dishwasher and washing machine, regardless) or even a luxury one in Crown Heights or Bed Stuy (but maybe barely with how rapidly things change--see highest rent increases year-over-year above). I just don’t want to.
My original intent with moving to Williamsburg was certainly not to try and be cool in 2013; it was simply near where I knew the most people. If I was going to be single, I didn't want to isolate myself, which is my natural tendency. (Plus, one-third of my rent was being subsidized, which was no small influence in picking a more expensive place than I typically would.) When you say you live in Williamsburg people immediately form an opinion of you. Whether a hold-out with enviable rent in a shithole or a wealthy newcomer, you’re still signaling hard.
Jackson Heights? I’ve mentioned it to coworkers, and some may know the name but most have never been in person. What is it? Maybe it’s for people who’ve given up or don’t know better? (Really, it’s mostly still for immigrants and the elderly and a tiny trickle of young families priced out of Brooklyn and aren’t ready to return to their home towns.) Maybe it’s where you mark your descent into middle-aged oblivion.
I don’t know anyone in the area, which could be dangerous for a lazy agoraphobe in the making. I won’t be able to walk and meet friends easily. I won’t be a block or a subway stop or two from shows. I won't be able to check out new, notable bars and restaurants by just strolling down the street. And no, there still aren't any Brooklyn-style bars, or bars geared to anyone except men who want to watch sports or pay to dance with women, in Jackson Heights. Planning and effort will be required.
Then again, it’s not as if I’m going to shows every night, even though I could. (I did make the effort to see a friend's band play Friday and I'm going to the Fresh & Onlys Wednesday.) Just like Ridgewood in my 20s, I don’t think Jackson Heights is necessarily meant for a single woman in her early 40s either. I may have to get on board with blue collar divorcees with teenagers and/or brush up on my Spanish. Blue collar guys do like to buy shots and they are known to own boats, so there's that.
And that's all I have right now.