Living in Park Slope, Brooklyn comes with many perks: Prospect Park; living in the city but not of the city; amazing brownstone architecture; close-knit community; access to wondrous cheeses; diversity; the prodigious Park Slope Ward; summer concert series in the park; the pervading family culture; best restaurants ever; etc. But more than anything else here it is our friends we love the most.
Our first place in Brooklyn was an enormous 1,000 sq./ft. loft in the industrial, non-residential section of Sunset Park (romantic and Brooklyn-y, right?). Well, the romance faded within a week after our third 4:00AM wakeup to men brawling and cops breaking them up across the street at the Sweet Cherry (if you’re thinking pie shop, you’re way off). That third night, when guys were banging a bat on the door to the fine entertainment establishment, was when Sara decided enough was enough. Though, now that I think about it, her decision was probably made a couple days earlier when the bus driver that picked her up tried to actually “pick her up” by mentioning the heat her thighs were giving off. Or something.
So through a chain of events I called my friend’s son who happened to live in the Park Slope ward (and whom we’d never met) and he immediately invited us over and offered his help to find us a place in the neighborhood. We stepped out of the subway in wonderment of the beautiful tree-lined streets and lovely brownstones and immediately needed to live in this neighborhood. By the time we got to their cute little 240 sq/ft studio apartment our new friends had already found three apartments for us to check out, one of which was perfect and only $200/month over our original budget. Because this is New York City the landlord wanted an in-state guarantor on the lease, otherwise no deal. Ironically the only people we even knew in the state were our new friends of two days. Because they owned their apartment his signature would apparently satisfy, which he offered without a blink. The apartment was ours. Later that evening they introduced us to their small group of friends (4 other couples) who all lived within a few blocks from each other. After six years and five move-aways later (us and one of the wives are the only ones still in New York), these 5 couples remain some of our closest friends.
New York City, and Brooklyn by extension, is an expensive place to live. A natural byproduct of this is transience. People come for the opportunities of work and/or education and once they’ve accomplished what they need (by way of a degree or getting “New York” on their resume) they leave for more affordable pastures. This is perfectly understandable, as it is what we will likely do some day. The problem is that these damn people become our friends. And because we stay, we are constantly being left. First it was the Wonnies. Then the Rawlins. Then the Woodies. Then my friend Chris Williams. And the Reynolds, the Smiths, and the Beans. And the Remingtons. And the Stratfords and Palmers. And then Christian. Ugh, that was a blow. Now the Barths, the Lows and the Rissers. That last one being especially difficult for my wife as they grew so close together, each surviving their first year of motherhood only by leaning upon each other, a tough void to fill. But we recognize that the stars aligned for us to even be in a position to have had so many wonderful friends and we are grateful for every minute we spent with each one of them.
As a new parent I can only begin to imagine that the sentiments in that last sentence are similar to what I will feel the day my children move away from me. Replace “friends” with “children” and you’re speaking the feelings of almost anyone with grown children. And because I often think of parenthood as a symbol of our relationship with God, I wonder if those were God’s sentiments when we left His presence to come to this life. A few months ago I wrote a post about the role friends play in my idea of eternity. This one conjures up images my idea of pre-mortality. I guess that’s the difference between friends reuniting and friends leaving.