Monday, October 11, 2004

Movers and Shakers

Life on Third Street hasn't been the same since The Deserter's moved to Nyack. Mrs. Deserter's window boxes are still on their old window sills on the second floor across the street. The plants are growing wild, snaking downward, practically touching the top of the first floor windows. Smartmom hasn't seen the new owners water them once, which is a sad state of affairs, since Mrs. Deserter was obsessive in the loving attention she lavished on those boxes. Smartmom misses the sight of Mrs. Deserter leaning out her window with her gardening shears and watering can. For years, the two would wave and share news in true Brooklyn fashion: Smartmom yelling from across the street to Mrs. Deserter at her window sill.

The Deserters were the first people Smartmom and Hepcat knew in Park Slope. Old friends from Smartmom's college days, they were mavericks in a way, Park Slope pioneers. Living on Ninth Street in a huge railroad floor-thru, they didn't have kids then and their apartment was a bohemian's paradise crammed full of books, the artwork of friends, a grand piano and Mr. Deserter's ancient video equipment.

They moved to Third Street after their first child was born and that's really when the two families became intertwined. They lived in the same kind of apartment in the same kind of limestone building on two sides of the same street. Mr. Deserter, however, was convinced that Smartmom's apartment was much wider.

It's not that they ever did that much together. But they would often cross the great divide of Third Street and laugh about the fact that people on one side of Third Street rarely socialized with those on the other. The friends proudly broke with Third Street convention and would sit in one another's front yards watching their kids play. They'd invite one another to building bar-be-cues and block parties and share birthdays and other events. But really what they did was talk, endlessly talk about gardening (back when Smartmom was interested in sidewalk gardening), pre-school, PS 321, life as mamas, life as papas, The COOP, careers, art, movies, books, politics, computer programming, boom, bust, kids, kids, and more kids. There seemed to be no end to the way their lives ran parallel and it was always interesting to share eachother's news and blues.

The families were known to get together for impromputu "what's in your refrigerator?" dinners. Out on Third Street, Hepcat and Mrs. Deserter would discuss their latest purchases from the PARK SLOPE FOOD COOP and come up with imaginative menus to Smartmom and Mr. Deserter's delight. "I've got a pork loin, an eggplant," Mrs. Deserter would say. "And I've got mescalin salad, and some nice asparagus," Hepcat might add. The Deserters were like family in a way and there was an ease, a familiarity, which made these dinners such fun. With so much shared history, they'd regale eachother with stories about old friends, professors, and their younger selves at a younger time. They'd finish up these wine soaked evenings with good gossip about their neighbors, of which there was never a shortage.

For years, The Deserters talked about buying a house in the Slope. And when their second son came along, it became imperative that they find a bigger place to live. Sometime last year their attention turned, shockingly, to suburbia. Smartmom never imagined they'd cross that line. But Mrs. Deserter longed for a backyard as her gardening ambitions had grown beyond her beloved window boxes -- she needed a larger canvas, so to speak. And soon, the Deserters discovered Nyack and became convinced that they'd found a town, similar in some ways to Park Slope, that they could call home.

They moved in August while Smartmom and family were still in California. When Smartmom returned, their windows were dark. A few weeks later, she saw a moving truck and figured that the new owners had moved in. Smartmom hasn't set eyes on them yet, but when she does she wants to tell them to take care of those window boxes, it's not polite to neglect good memories that way.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger mamainwaiting said...

SM thanks for the lovely piece about the desserters. A very nice and touching homage to your great friendship. Hope you can keep things up now that they have moved to the dreaded suburbs. love, GA

At 6:24 PM, Blogger MrsDeserter said...

Thanks for the kind profile; we are all thinking of third street fondly, and it's nice to think that we are remembered well. I hope you'll make it up for a Sunday "what's in your fridge?" dinner, though the contents of ours have taken a dive since it's filled by ShopRite rather than the Food Coop. Don't forget to tell them to WATER THE PLANTS. What was I thinking?

At 7:47 PM, Blogger mrs. cleavage said...

The Deserters must be forgiven if not forgotten. Workerbee completely understands the call of the wild & currently calls her firescape garden. And yes, I been busy & the grumpier for it. A day w/o blogging is like a day w/o sunshine.


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