Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love Letter to My New Neighborhood

I just got off the phone with a completely unhelpful, mildly disgruntled employee of the NYC Department of Education who told me that my paycheck will most likely NOT go to our new address because it takes two to three pay periods for the system to log in address changes.

Only a few months ago, this sort of phone call would have sent me over the edge.  Tears might have appeared, my heart would have started to race, obscenities would have been slung across fiber-optic lines.  Today, I just assured myself that the trusty Post Office would speed me my money, wished the pissy woman a lovely day, and made a joke about the  whole affair with my coworker, Laura.

While proper medication and therapy definitely deserve credit for my personality shift, I do also have to credit our new apartment and our new neighborhood -- South Windsor Terrace/North Kensington, or SoWiTerNoKen, as those of us in the know call it.

So many battles had to be fought in our old apartment -- battles to get the management to fix lead paint properly, battles to get our a-hole upstairs neighbor to stop doing construction at 3am, battles to get people to stop throwing their trash into the communal courtyard, battles to get people to stop airing out their nicotine-ridden apartments into the common lobby.  I constantly felt on my guard.  Many mornings I awoke to find my fists clenched, as if ready to punch someone.  I guess Dave is lucky he didn't make any sudden moves in the middle of the night.

It's hard to take things in stride when you're living and working in that environment.  While Dave got to escape Little Russia 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, there I was, surrounded by surly neighbors and bullyish management.  I had to walk a mile to the most decent playground, I had to cross the Boulevard of Death (aka Ocean Parkway) to get a coffee.  I was in hell.

Now we're in a smaller apartment, a 2 floor walk up with no laundry.  On paper, we've been demoted.

But I can't tell you how much happier we are.  The apartment is sunny and happy.  Can an inanimate object like a residence be happy?  You betcha!  

There's ample parking on our street, a fabulous playground a block away, the library two doors down, a cafe with sing alongs down the street, and Prospect Park a mere five minute walk away.

While all of this is fabulous, it's the people that really make the neighborhood.  The fellow moms and dads and their adorable offspring, people who say hi on the street, people who offered to take Stella when my dad was sick, people who'll laugh with me when I'm feeling frustrated, people who are real and normal and friendly (and don't do construction at 3am).

So, SoWiTerNoKen, I salute you!  Thank you for helping me refrain from calling a DOE employee a four-letter-word that starts with a "c!"

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