Friday, November 12, 2004

Real Estate Dreams

Sometimes Smartmom has house longings.

Much as she loves Brooklyn and all that it has to offer, she still has this desire for a house in the country. Trees, grass, dirt. That sort of thing.

Alas, a house in Brooklyn is pretty much out of the question. Smartmom and Hepcat haven't been real savvy in the real estate department. Now that's a tale that nobody needs to hear. B O R I N G. Their "shoulda, woulda, couldas" could fill a book -- a very, very long book.

For some, life in New York is all about real estate regrets. And envy. And all these collective mistakes and envy could fuel a neutron bomb. Always on the cutting edge. Smartmom and Hepcat have lived in all of the hot and heavy neighborhoods before they were hot and heavy -- Soho, the Upper West Side, Williamsburg, the East Village, Brooklyn Heights, and now Park Slope. And they've never once made a killing in New York real estate. NEVER.

Damn (regret, regret, envy, envy)!

But you see, nothing ever meets their vaulted expectations. Or more accurately, nothing bridges their wildly different views when it comes to real estate.

Hepcat wants a place spaciousness enough for an in-home photography studio AND a computer atelier. Hell, he used to want to find a loft building with an elevator large enough for his car. Smartmom, on the other hand, is fairly easy. She would settle for three nice-sized bedrooms, two bathrooms, a room for Hepcat and all of his PACK RAT pocessions, And a lovely writing space for her computer, her desk, and her comfy Aeron-style chair.

Since you've asked, she'd also love a big kitchen with a Viking Stove and a Sub-zero refrigerator, a formal dining room for her fantasy Thanksgiving dinners, a family room (whatever that is) and most of all, a parent's bedroom in it's own private wing of the house far from the rambunctious kidlets with her very own private bath with a huge bathtub and a separate shower.

Oh yeah. And a meditation room with a Buddha statue, a shrine, and an antique Tibetian rug.

Who said Smartmom doesn't have yuppie ambitions up the wazoo? She just couldn't hack it as a yuppie.

Hmmmm.

You can see why it's been a tad difficult for the testy twosome to find a place to buy. Partially because their currently meager incomes would never allow for such luxuries (in other words, they're broke). Sad to say, they're also tough-to- please, real estate procrastinators. Just ask all the realtors on Seventh Avenue who avoid them like the plague.

Then there's the matter of outdoor space. Smartmom would love a garden - a place to exercise her rather tepid talent for landscape design (she'll need a lot of help from her mother-in-law who is an artisan gardener as well as an artist and farmer in Northern California). She'd also love a spot for bar-be-cues and dinners al fresco.

Hepcat longs for a garage big enough to store and retore vintage Porsches (inherited from a beloved Uncle) and all the eccentric cars that he's been collecting for the last twenty years and stores in a barn out in California. On a more mundane level, he also needs a spot to park the family's second-hand Volvo station wagon, which is frequently ticketed for parking violations. Suffice it to say, Smartmom is sick and tired of writing checks to the NYC Department of Finance. Hepcat, after nearly 30 years in NYC, still hasn't gotten the hang of alternate side of the street parking. Boy, that farm boy needs a garage.

In their years of apartment and house hunting, Smartmom and Hepcat have explored just about every nook and cranny of brownstone Brooklyn: Carroll Gardens, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Ditmas Park, even Greenwood Terrace and Sunset Park. They've seen all the up-and-coming neighborhoods fly up and out of their price-range. The two have even investigated the Hudson Valley region -- about 2 hours out of Manhattan. That's Rhinebeck, Red Hook, Tivoli, Kingston, Woodstock, and New Paltz. Gorgeous, gorgeous, and gorgeous. But how would they make ends meet -- Only the Blog Knows Kingston ain't gonna cut it.

The search ebbs and flows. Some years they look more than others. You might even think that they like looking at houses, that there's actually something about the process that they enjoy. Perhaps it's a way to try on and discard various identities (are we loft, Victorian house, or mid-century modern, honey?) Maybe it's a way to satisfy voyeuristic curiosity. But really...

Truth is, they've stayed in their humble, rent-stablilized abode all these years because, well, they do love their apartment AND it is around the corner from two of the best public schools in the city. Both of the kids can just roll out of bed in the morning and walk two blocks to their classrooms. But Teen Spirit is getting BIG, OSFO is one of those people who takes up a lot of space for someone her size, and Hepcat, well, Hepcat needs an airplane hangar to contain him...

What's a smart mom to do?

She can still dream of her house in the country. Much as she loves Brooklyn, sometimes a girl just needs to spread out a little bit. Dontcha think?

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