Anxiety grows in Brooklyn
I spent most of my sophomore year having an affair with Brooklyn. Like most great affairs, it was passionate and secret—late at night, after my last class and dinner with my Barnard friends, I’d lock my dorm room and ride the A to the G and exit into my other life, breathing in the leafy trees and stoops and brownstones. I’d walk down Clinton Avenue to my friend’s apartment, hip youth flying past me on their vintage bicycles, Clinton Hill’s original inhabitants hollering out over their boomboxes, and I’d breath a sigh of relief—I was home.
I spent almost every weekend of my second semester crashing on a friend from highschool’s couch, soaking up her exposed brick, the fraying sketches on the walls, her large kitchen. She goes to Pratt, and eventually I sort of thought I did too—wandering past the Pratt Sculpture garden on a Sunday morning, I’d smile at the Pratt cats that lay in sun patches, scratching the ears of the one I’d started to call my own. By the time summer rolled around, I had the number of the local sushi restaurant in my phone, I’d used the Pratt car service more than once, and I high-fived my friend’s landlord every time I approached her front door.
When I returned to campus I would feel hungover, the harsh geometry of Manhattan blaring up from the sidewalk, the walls of my dorm room claustrophobic, the pleasant dream of Brooklyn shaken away, leaving me with my cold, normal life. When I began to look for summer housing, the choice seemed obvious—I jumped at the chance to make Brooklyn my reality. So I packed my bags, got my keys and moved in, turning the affair into a long-term kind of thing.
The first weekend was amazing. I danced around in all the extra-square footage. I bought groceries. I once even wore an apron while cooking pasta for a dinner party—because I could have dinner parties.
However, after the honeymoon period, the affair began to take an ugly turn. When my alarm clock went off at 6 a.m. so I could commute to Times Square, I didn’t smile up at the exposed brick. The brownstones lined the endlessly long, magic-less walk to the subway every morning. My high-ceilings seemed to repel air-conditioning, and so I took to sleeping on the chair by the unit, crammed up in a ball while the stupid Pratt cats meowed all night.
We ran out of groceries, and the closest thing to Morton Williams was three stops away on the G train, a piece of engineering so unreliable it must have been crafted by blind fourth-graders. My landlord’s extreme friendliness turned out to be alcoholism. Oh, and those dinner parties? Turns out no one wants to visit you when you’re living in Brooklyn and they’re in Manhattan.
Brooklyn, far from the oasis I envisioned it as, seemed to bring up the same face and dialogue in my friends that it brought in my cab drivers—a frown, awkward pause, and then “Oh…right. Well, I wasn’t really planning on being out late…maybe let’s do somewhere in the city?” I have a blurred memory of physically forcing two of my Barnard friends into a cab with me in Williamsburg, imposing a guerilla sleepover on them. “GUYS IT’S NOT THAT FAR COME ON!” I said as I slipped the expensive car service a twenty. “Clinton Hill. Drive.”
Towards the end, my lifestyle seems to be sort of reversed—I spend my time sleeping at friend’s apartments in Manhattan, breathing in the city smog and 24 hour diners in relief. I appreciate things in bursts of familiarity—that’s right! I could catch a cab—whenever I wanted! I could get to Times Square in 15 minutes! What is this paradise? I have had my affair, and my body is exhausted from it—all I want is the warm familiarity of my tiny dorm room, the consistency of public safety, and the 1 train. I look forward to September and school starting with a weird eagerness I haven’t felt since elementary school, dreaming of Morningside Heights, moving boxes, and the day when I’ll finally get to go home again.
Leave a Comment
Be nice. Don't use HTML tags. And consider reading our full comment policy.