Monday, February 11, 2013
It's a quiet, overcast morning in Kingston, New York. Snow is piled up outside the window, beyond which is the neighbor's house, its 19th-century brick painted a greenish beige. We looked at five apartments from which we chose this one, but we could have looked at more. The housing market is depressed in the Hudson Valley, in sharp contrast to Brooklyn, from where we moved. We are paying half of what we paid to rent our Red Hook apartment, although this one is about 100 square feet smaller. Since we lost our sleeper sofa, kitchen hutch, curio cabinet, shelves, various side tables, cabinets and chairs, 400 square feet is about enough for us right now. Knowing that Brooklyn rents have skyrocketed since we moved to Red Hook in early 2010, it didn't seem possible to start over there. We loved Red Hook and we loved our friends there, but the neighborhood we knew had been destroyed. Beyond the fact of increasing rents was the reality of fewer apartments. We were surprised by how many people we spoke with who assumed we'd be moving back into our old place. Having all of your long-collected and dearly loved possessions strewn about, soaked with salt water and caked with dry wall is not something you want to revisit any time soon. It's been fifteen weeks and I still spend every day cleaning, scrubbing and polishing my things. The apartment is just starting to look set up, and I'm grateful for what survived.
The photo above is the 1865 Second Empire mansion, in which we are renting a ground-floor apartment. Yes, back on the ground floor again, but this time we're high up on a hill. We signed a six-month lease, as we are looking for a building to buy. Not 100% sure we're going to stay in Kingston, but it seemed like a good place to land. It's a two-hour drive, bus ride or train ride (out of Poughkeepsie, 20 minutes away) from nyc. Kingston sits on a bluff over the Hudson River, making a gradual downhill slope from the Catskill Mountains. Ulster County, of which Kingston is the seat, is breathtakingly beautiful. The air is clean. People are nice. Food is fresh and delicious. Yes there are drawbacks- it's a bit hard for this city girl to adjust to the car culture she thought she left behind. But this is where we are for now, and it offers us a bit of breathing room as we get our lives back together.