In my early twenties, a rather deliciously delirious Manhattan real estate agent / actress took me to find an apartment on the Upper West Side. I dreamed of finding a place on the first floor of a charming brownstone with large windows and high ceilings, but she dragged me through seven dismal dwellings before I abandoned her. Of all the apartments, she had saved the best for last – an airless room of no more than 250 square feet that featured a kitchen in a closet that could be hidden by closing louvered folding doors circa 1970 and a small window making it unusable. facing a ventilation duct. . Maybe I was the illusionist to believe that my $ 700 ($ 1989) a month would get me the place of my dreams.
âIt’s a dollhouse! exclaimed the realtor in awe as she tiptoed around the middle of the 200 square foot room, her arms gesturing lavishly as if there was a real need to project herself into the rafters. . Was she showing me an apartment or auditioning for Les Mis? Obviously, even a single bed would simultaneously prevent the opening of the closet, bathroom, hallway and kitchen doors.
“But where would I put my bed?” I asked, a little incredulous even for a relatively seasoned New Yorker used to living in small spaces with several roommates. She performed a small, choreographed dip-hop step, pushed her body up and forward, exuberantly threw both hands skyward as her gaze fell on a corner above the built-in closet.
“You could sleep up there!” She gushed, projecting manic excitement and enthusiasm for my potential new sleeping arrangement on a 2 Â½ foot by 6 foot perch, 8 feet off the ground with 3 feet of ceiling clearance and no handrails or ladders.
After abandoning Snow White and her seven dwarf apartments, I found an old-fashioned place, in the Village Voice classifieds: a ground floor studio with the original fireplace in a brown stone between Central Park West and Columbus; it cost $ 690 per month. My owner was a gentleman named Albert Scheintaub; he had owned the building for years and had maintained it fairly well.
It was then, what is now; Welcome to my overpriced 645 square foot studio on Bainbridge Island, a sought after and affluent island. There is nothing “fancy” about it, although that is how it is advertised if you search for it online. They put a few dollars into a useful renovation before I moved in, but the carpet in the hallways is almost 15 years old; there are no amenities and the gutters are in dire need of repair which means I can listen to a constant drip 24/7 all winter long. Today, Bainbridge is to PNW what the Upper West Side was to Manhattan in the 1990s.
How did I get here? In 2019, I found myself in a situation where I had to reinvent myself a new life and a new career on this small island after leaving the relationship that had brought me here the year before. While the relationship was a failure, my new relationship with Bainbridge was in full bloom. My friends, the surroundings and the charm of the small town of Winslow seemed like a Hallmark movie. But what I’ve never been able to figure out about the movies is how the young part-time saleswoman in the corner cafe affords herself the fabulously stylish three-bedroom home on a tree-lined street just outside. outside the city.
I hadn’t worked for two years, but prior to that I had a solid 20-year career in home product development in New York and Dallas. New Yorkers are nothing but resilient and resourceful, so I banded together and started doing interior design work and created a line of air plant wall brackets called Modern. Airhead.
I have woven myself into the fabric of the community by volunteering on Paul’s Art Committee and most recently serving on the Board of Directors of Arts & Humanities Bainbridge. If you live on the island, you’ve probably seen me in town with my big hats, little chihuahuas, and my white VW Beetle.
I would like to grow up in a bigger space; In fact, I desperately need more space. Before COVID-19, after only a year of activity, I could have imagined buying something small, but the price of real estate and rentals had skyrocketed, so it won’t happen any time soon. Real estate agents brag about selling properties for $ 200,000 to $ 500,000 above asking price – they’re thrilled, sellers thrilled, cash buyers are thrilled, and I find myself leaning my nose against the window in a dilemma (cue The Clash), should I stay or should I go?
I will end by saying that I have decided to stay, but only by default. I need more time to think about what is important to me in terms of where and how I want to live and to see what is happening in a post-COVID market. Next month I’ll be signing another one-year lease after completely redecorating my apartment to a ridiculously glamorous degree to allay my disappointment.