At a time when so many people clamor and are willing to pay a mint to live in Brooklyn we are moving. In a lot of ways Brooklyn is my second home and I have loved it up close and from a distance. Here is where I started writing in a serious way. Then we lived in Fort Greene as I started grad school for creative writing.
After I completed the New School University we moved to California for Kathy to go to grad school. There are a lot of great things about the Bay Area its proximately to wine being the most noted one. Still after seven years we returned to New York with our sights on Brooklyn.
I remember on the drive back East we stopped in Reno, Nevada. The front desk guy at the Hampton Inn responded to us saying we were moving from Oakland back to Brooklyn with:
“Moving from one shitty city to another.” I looked at him thinking, “You should talk.”
Yet, to hordes of individuals this is a mecca, a place filled with promise. With a world class art scene, vibrate culture, great foods & sprits and interesting people. Yes, Brooklyn is this and more.
But is also expensive and over-crowded. We presently live in Flatbush which is one of the “it” neighborhoods of this great borough. I watch daily as the battle for housing and places to be mutely and loudly rages on the corners.
The other day as my wife (who is white) walked our racially mixed son to his school as she was verbally assaulted by a man who shouted over and over.
“Come sit on my big black ass dick, you Honky,” as she walked passed the Church Avenue train station at E.18th and Church Ave.
Flatbush has been positioned into the prime property category and hence a hotbed of gentrification. When we moved here four and half years ago the realtors had already renamed it Prospect Park South. But I know better.
I tread lightly when I talk gentrification but I sit in a unique position. Mostly because I have also gentrified this neighborhood. But because I’m incognegro no one knows exactly who I am. The people in the neighborhood see me as the black girl walking around with some white girl outsider and the new white arrivals see me as a part of the old guard neighborhood.
And I watch as the new arrivals walk sheepishly by and almost never interact with their neighbors. And I also see the ones who have lived here their entire lives complain and some instances try to scare away the newbies with a harsh glances and terse words. Everybody is right and everybody is wrong.
Economics drive this machine. The ones who have more and the ones who have less have found themselves in this place at this time. And there are no easy answers. But I’ve come to understand just how stressful this Game of Real Estate is. And how isolated I feel in the midst of a neighborhood filled with all types of people that I actually don’t have access to. So we move.
One might say I’ve taken the easy road. To which I say—So what! But after spending a few years searching Brooklyn to buy a house we realize it is cost prohibitive. So we set our sails for Jersey City. My wife calls us Real Estate Refugees. I’m not sure if it is an appropriate term but it is our reality.
Jersey City isn’t a magical unicorn. It has its own battles for land, and there is violence and gentrification. But we’ve found a sweet house and the Mom-in-Law is in the downstairs apartment and me, Kathy and the boy will be upstairs. He likes being upstairs like all little lords. And our small family will have each other. And we work to build ourselves a community and good friends nearby. And we will be just fine most days.