REAL ESTATE ENVY
I know I shouldn't torture myself this way, but I find myself increasingly envious of the living situations of my friends. There are reasons for this (the comparative living situations, that is, not the envy), but I still can't help but feel that way.
You see, when I moved to New York, I was spoiled. My then-boyfriend ST lived in a beautiful duplex on the Upper West Side, steps from Riverside Drive with a view of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument. The apartment was quiet, convenient, airy, and well-maintained. I should have known it was too good to last.
After the divorce, my friend LK took me in, and let me stay in the guest room of her new, completely renovated Upper East Side co-op on Lexington Avenue until I got back on my feet. The guest room soon became known as 'The Rob Room,' and our temporary arrangement ended up lasting three years.
Toward the end of my extended stay, and much to the surprise of everyone, I actually did get back on my feet, finally landing a job that paid more than the Manhattan equivalent of Minimum Wage. Yes, I was burdened by debt from years of under-employment, but I had the ability to be modestly self-sufficient. And so I turned to Craigslist and quickly found myself a two-bedroom, which I now share with my still-underemployed roommate.
The views of Riverside Park are now gone, as are the Lexington Avenue doormen. Now the views from all but my bedroom window are of airshafts. I'm still on the Upper East Side, but on the east side of York Avenue, closer to Roosevelt Island than Lexington Avenue. The apartment is cramped, the furniture is found, the exposed brick seems to crumble a bit too much for my comfort, but it's all mine. Well... it's all mine as long as I keep paying the rent.
I know I should be content with my $2050-per-month, 82-square-feet home. It's not as if I'm living on the streets. And the neighborhood is very quiet, although I suspect that's largely because most people think you fall off the edge of the earth if you travel east of First Avenue. In truth, I am content... until I'm exposed to the living situations of my friends.
You already know how ST and LK live. But the rest of 'The Gang' aren't doing too poorly either. For example:
* BS has a large, sunny, airy one-bedroom on the Upper West Side near Central Park, that is easily as large as my dark little two-bedroom.
* CS and MZ just moved into a beautiful, sunny, sprawling 15th-floor apartment in Morningside Heights. From their roof (one flight up) you get views of the George Washington and Triboro Bridges, the Empire State and Chrysler buildings and the rest of the Midtown skyline, and the Hudson River and beyond. I have told them that I'd kill them for that apartment, and they laugh it off. Fools.
* MS and MC took the suburban route, and have owned a quaint home in Bronxville for years. (Heh... I just called a house ten times larger than my apartment 'quaint.') Bronxville is not to be confused with the Bronx; this is a real house in a real upscale suburb. Three bedrooms, two baths, etc., etc. It also has a large deck... and a hot tub. I suppose I could make a blender drink and climb into my kitchen sink, but it wouldn't be the same.
It's nice to want to keep up with the Joneses, but two grand a month for rent is already more than tapping me out. So I'm trying to learn contentment. Your home is what you make it, right?
Still... CS and MZ should probably consider keeping one eye open when I'm around. I'd do a lot to have that view.