Brooklyn or the Burbs
I grew up in a suburb 30 minutes from Manhattan and came into the city a lot while growing up. My Mom took me to see Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, and for birthdays, we'd celebrate at special places. As I kid, I got a real kick out of the Hard Rock Cafe and Planet Hollywood, and didn't realize that the Gotham Bar and Grill and Windows on the World were actually much cooler. When I was in middle school, I started coming in on my own with friends. We'd ride the 6 to St. Mark's and buy peace sign earrings and when we were on break from college, we started going to bars on the Upper East Side. I loved living so close to Manhattan and having the best of both worlds. I even remember telling one friend that I never wanted to live in the city. It was dirty, loud and I already lived close enough. Eventually, I made my way. I spent less than a year in Manhattan before Daniel brought up Brooklyn, a place I never thought I'd consider. After circling just one block, I was sold. That was almost 10 years ago.
Our apartment is only 600 square feet. We need more space and I've been dreaming about having a house, preferably on the west coast. California isn't in the cards, at least not now, and after looking for a new place for the last two months and feeling discouraged by what's out there, we've started considering the suburbs. For a few days last week, I thought I was ready to go back. House hunting had something to do with it, I'm sure. When you're used to looking at small urban spaces, a real house feels so big. Too big. Especially when they have entire rooms devoted to laundry. Basements full of toys where kids can run and play while adults have real conversations upstairs. A backyard with a swing set. No neighbors above or below. Quiet streets free of noisy city buses and annoying car alarms. But I know better than to be swayed by a seemingly idyllic place. Nowhere is perfect and there are trade-offs wherever you go. My friend Bernadette also made sure to remind me of the movie Revolutionary Road. Whether or not we should leave Brooklyn, a place that really feels like home, is a huge decision. And if I need to look to food to help me decide what to do, so be it. You've gotta go with your gut.
Bklyn Larder is one of so many places I'd really miss. A gourmet deli, it's where I go for sandwiches, or top notch prepared foods and all of their desserts taste as good as they look. Their walls are also lined with chocolate, candy, granola, jams, honey and all sorts of other tempting things. Our friends Marg and Dante came over for dinner last week and they brought some treats from there with them. Chocolate cookies that were rich and crumbly and topped with flecks of Maldon sea salt, and two kinds of gelato. The almond one is airy and addicting and it's laced with a crackly layer that tastes like crushed amaretto cookies. It reminds me of the toasted almonds I used to get from the Good Humor truck growing up, but it's a million times better. I joked with Marg and Dante that they were using Bklyn Larder to convince us to stay in Brooklyn. Well, in a way, it worked. I went back to Bklyn Larder twice this week and while thinking about this one house I really loved in the burbs, I kept wondering where I'd go to find fresh bread, or chocolate chip cookies, or to stock up on dark chocolate. In Brooklyn, my apartment might feel like it's closing in on me, but knowing I can walk a few blocks and get crepes or ride the subway a few stops for homemade doughnuts, somehow makes up for the lack of space. I'm not saying good food is impossible to find in the suburbs. I just know that it doesn't come close to what I have here in Brooklyn.
Last week, we changed our minds about where to move almost every day. Daniel would be for the burbs, and I'd say no. Then I'd jump on board and he'd run the other way. Today was rainy and dreary and we spent most of it going to open houses in Brooklyn. We even saw two apartments we really liked. After, we went to Bklyn Larder and split two sandwiches—grilled cheese on ciabatta with pickles and roasted turkey, pickled shallots and comte. As usual, they were amazing. Expensive, but worth every bite. I think it's safe to say we're staying.
228 Flatbush Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn