The first apartment we lived in was small. We had part of the ceiling cave in our second week there. There was a mouse that lived in the kitchen briefly (and I count my lucky stars that there was only one). There were multiple times the ceiling leaked because of our upstairs neighbor’s washing machine. We heard gunshots on our block our first week there (Welcome to New York!). There were several beatings on our street in the months before we moved, and it was a common occurrence to see a pair of cops on every street corner, which was both unnerving and reassuring. The building was ugly, the landlord apathetic (again, welcome to New York), and I felt like I was taking my life in my hands every time I went up or down the stairs. But it was close to Eastern Parkway, a beautiful tree-lined avenue with benches to sit on and wide medians perfect for running, walking, or sitting.
Wikipedia tells me that when Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux coined the term “parkway” in 1866, they meant a “landscaped road built expressly for ‘pleasure-riding and driving’ or scenic access to Prospect Park.” Hence, there are no storefronts along the parkway, just residential buildings, subway stations, cars, and people. It’s a haven for runners, who have plenty of room to maneuver through the walkers and talkers, as well as the shade of the trees to keep them a little bit cooler. Back when we lived in that first apartment, I would take Manchild 1 out and sit on a bench and we’d watch for squirrels and birds and interesting people (of which there are not a few). On Saturdays, when Micah was home, I had my chance to go for a run (this was during the pre-BOB era of our parenting life), and I would soak up every step of the Parkway. Indeed, proximity to the Parkway is tops the short list of good things about that apartment.
Our new apartment isn’t quite as close to the Parkway, but it is close enough to be part of our running route and part of Sunday afternoon strolls. In the few times we’ve been able to run since we’ve moved here, I can’t help but romanticize our time in that first apartment. I know it is strictly because I’m remembering the beauty and the freedom of those runs during a time when nearly our entire life was new and unfamiliar. Our happiness may have actually been tied to our proximity to the Parkway and the good times we had running and walking down it, the talks we had, the plans we hashed out, and the dreams we vocalized. It may be too soon to tell, but I think when I look back at Brooklyn, years from now when we (fingers crossed) have a house and a yard in some unknown location, the first thing I’m going to see is Eastern Parkway at sunset.