Archives for posts with tag: Brookline

It’s been over a year since we left the steamy, summer stoops of Fort Greene, Brooklyn to settle here in small town Brookline, Massachusetts.

That summer we left, we made the most of the fleeting remainder of our days in the Big Apple, spending money we didn’t have on meals in East Village bottegas and drinks overlooking the High Line.

On one such night, traveling home from a drunken trip down memory lane where hubby and I trolled Avenue A, privately reminiscing about my carefree twenties … mojitos every night, fridge bare but for takeout, cavorting with Latin men … we stopped for  frozen yogurt from my favorite hole-in-the-wall hot-dog/magazine/fro-yo emporium run by an adorable, toothless Polish man  and then hailed a cab home on the Bowery.

Here's the place

Here’s the place

Here's the Polish man. He's showing me his citizenship papers.

Here’s my beloved Polish purveyor of fro-yo. He’s showing me his citizenship papers.

Know the Bowery? Formerly occupied by flophouses, it’s now populated by trendy hotels and dominated by a giant contemporary art museum. Still, it retains its gritty origins, especially inching downtown to Brooklyn Bridge, where we were headed.

I stepped into the cab, and I have no idea how this happened but in closing the cab door, my arm brushed against my ear and my diamond earring flew off my earlobe and onto the street.

I stopped traffic — yes, like an aggressive traffic cop who’s had too much to drink– and desperately scanned the shiny turfed road for the earring I’d worn every day for so many years. Made by my mother for me from  a cocktail ring my Great Auntie Suzanne — a chic Frenchwoman who frolicked with Fernand Leger in the lavander-scented French countryside as a young girl — had left me in her will.

And now I was searching for the diamond on the gritty streets of downtown New York. And wouldn’t you know — I actually found the earring back?

But light turned green and I couldn’t stop the roar of cars impatient to arrive at their next stop — club, bar, rumpled bed.

My diamond? Not to be found. Blending in with the glittering rock embedded in the asphalt, it was indistiguishable. Maybe a flophouse holdout would find it, cash it in, heralding a brighter future.

I remained remarkably calm, as hubby noted. I knew from leaving New York once before, that it takes things from you when you leave. As if taunting you, saying, “See what’ll happen to you when you leave your dreams of glittering success behind? Don’t be a fool. Stay.”

The last time I’d left New York — to go study writing in Maine — on moving day, I stepped on a nail,  got pulled over by the cops and sacrificed my debit card to an angry ATM machine. But then, leaving New York also brought me my husband, who lived in Boston, allowing our knowing-each other to blossom at not such a long distance. And hence … my children … my life today.

Life began again.

So what if New York took my diamond? Big deal.

Because guess what I got in return?

A cozy new home we can actually afford. Oodles of fleece. Smart wool socks. Peace of mind. Good schools. I know … yadda yadda yadda … it all sounds so boring to my former, New York party-girl self. But today, it matters.

I may not have this:

A blurry Chrysler building -- my favorite NYC landmark

A blurry Chrysler building — my favorite NYC landmark

But I’ve got this:

Post-nemo snowman with the kiddies -- rivals the Chrysler any day, don't you think?

Post-nemo snowman with the kiddies — rivals the Chrysler any day, don’t you think?

I know diamonds are a girl’s best friend and all, but I really would rather have fleece. At least here in Brookline. At this stage of my life. It’s soft. It’s cozy. Forgiving. It won’t fall out of my ear. And what better way to stay warm, than to wrap up in a fleece blanket, snug in bed with your loved ones?

[Never mind that they’re nagging you to watch Yo Gabba Gabba or asking for their 10th glass of milk … hush now, hush now … let’s go with the fleece imagery…]

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Last year, my family and I moved to a lovely town called Brookline, just outside Boston. The perks of leaving New York City continue to flow. We can breathe in the air around us without choking. It’s a short drive to Maine. And we’re no longer bleeding cash.

But I miss New York. Its intensity and creative energy. I miss the anonymity of living in a big city. Boston is comparatively provincial, and though I’m all for making new friends, I don’t really want my neighbors poking their heads into my business.

You see, there’s a middle-aged Russian lady in our ‘hood who regularly bangs on our front door to say hi.

Her mission? To return our cat Viktor from his daily walkabouts. She’ll find Viktor somewhere and bring him home, banging on the front door in the middle of the day to announce his return, causing me to stop mid-salted-caramel-ingestion and think to myself,”Who the f@!% is that?” and momentarily contemplate being axed to death, before I realize it’s probably the Russian Cat Lady.

I will open the door and there she will stand, holding Viktor in her arms. Typically, our conversations go like this:

“He has come home, my dearrrrr,” she’ll say, rolling her r’s like a Checkhovian pro.

“Thanks!” I’ll reply, thinking Listen, he’s a cat, he’ll come home, he always does, please don’t worry about him and bang on my door in the middle of the day like a crazed UPS delivery person in need of meds.

“Have you ever thought about putting in a cat flap?” she’ll ask.

“No!” I’ll reply smiling,  thinking I’ve thought about a lot of things lately, Cat Lady, but cat flaps ain’t one of them. Try saving for our kids’ college accounts and finding a writing job with decent pay. Though you might be right…there have been numerous reports of coyotes and raccoons in the area. Is Viktor prepared for battle?

“It was so sweet the way I found him,” she’ll continue. “He was rrrrubbing up against my leg, and I thought it might be the missing cat from the posters on the street, so I checked his collar. He is so frrrriendly. It is as if he rrrrrecognized me!”

“I know, isn’t he sweet?” I’ll reply, thinking: Are you trying to tell me he needs more attention? Listen Cat Lady, why don’t you try remembering to freshen his water bowl when you have a 2-year-old clawing at your leg for “More wawa please” every 5 seconds?

So imagine my surprise, when last week at the public garden down the street from our home, I spied Ms. From Russia with Love for Cats. A sunny, 4:30 in the afternoon, I was with Miss B, watching her play in the giant sand pit, when I noticed Cat Lady sitting on a nearby bench. As I squinted, trying to figure out whether it was actually her, I noticed she was swigging something out of a bottle that looked remarkably like a Heineken.

Gasp! Shock! Horror! An open container near my 2 year old! I knew there was more to her story. She is a lush!

I texted hubby, who advised me to “Make a citizen’s arrest.”

And then,

“Not a good influence on Viktor.”

Ha!

And then I realized. It’s happening. I have just taken the perilous first step to becoming the very person I loathe: a nosey, hypocritical puritan!  Give this poor woman a break — she’s from Russia!  She probably brushes her teeth with vodka!

In that moment, I realized that it doesn’t matter who my neighbors are and whether I live in a small town in Kansas or the top of a skyscraper in Dubai. I’ve got to remember to take New York with me. It’s OK to embrace the odd animal-loving nosey parker…as long as I don’t become one myself.

After all, Perhaps Cat Lady is Viktor’s guardian angel in disguise. She might save Viktor’s life one day (sniff). 

The next time she drops off Viktor, I’ll invite her in for a beer.