Let’s close the chapter on the last year so we can start looking ahead. Read Part 1 here or else the following post will make no sense. (Disclaimer: Reading Part 1 not guaranteed to make the following post make any sense.)
LATE MAY 2012
Our second apartment in the Bronx was a good home. Small by any other city’s standards, but large enough where we could scatter all of our Wonder Washed clothes on the floor and not have to stack anything. (Not that we ever tried, ha ha. Um. Yeah.)
As we approached the end of the lease, May 31, the question came up. That gosh-durn question that’s robbed us of so much comfort over the last five years: What if?
This time, it was a question that we’d tackled before: What if we got a roommate? We left our last roommate situation mainly because Cool Newbie was a wee, middle-of-the-night-feeding newborn who could not be reasoned with. Now he was a walking, talking, weaned two-year-old who could not be reasoned with.
We wanted to live in community again. We were doubtful we could find someone who would live in the North Bronx with a family, but we put the word out. God ignored our doubts.
In a matter of days, we:
- Got a response from someone, whom we actually knew.
- Found a suitable, nay, amazing house to apply for.
- Met with the owners, whom we figured would not like our situation as a family of four with two kids under 5, and one roommate.
- Were told that the owners liked us a lot and agreed to rent to us.
One last hurdle was that our roommate needed to find a sublettor for the rest of her current lease. She posted on Craigslist and found one the next day.
We started packing our place.
The new place was a couple of blocks around the corner from the last. It was our best place in NYC yet: two stories with a basement, three bedrooms (one was our roommate’s), one and a half bathrooms, kitchen, living room, dining room, driveway, AND a backyard! Here is the photographic evidence.
And what I was most excited about:
That photo doesn’t accurately represent my sheer enthusiasm over having an electric washing machine and dryer, so here:
No more Wonder Wash!! Which meant I would never have to do this again:
No more laundromat! No more dropping underwear on the sidewalk on the way home and pretending like it didn’t happen! It was the first in-home laundry we’d had in four years.
We praised God for this house every day.
We hosted friends from Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn for barbecues. Our house was literally the second-to-last stop on the 6 train, and we appreciated their efforts to visit. We also gathered with old friends in the neighborhood and made new ones.
I started my first ongoing part-time project, a big step in my freelance career.
And we traveled, including a short-notice overnight drive to Indianapolis to stay with good friends and see Eisley, and a trip to Vermont for the Strolling of the Heifers festival. Rain didn’t cancel the event but sure soaked it.
I started a second part-time project, working with two startup companies at once. It held a lot of promise. Balancing several projects, I tried to settle into a schedule, seeking space and quiet to work in. Despite the size of the house, I had difficulty escaping the noisy brouhahas that would result from, say, Cool Newbie hitting Cool Boy between the eyes with a die-cast Thomas the Tank Engine.
As the summer wound down, so did everyone’s availability. Our friends got back into work and school routines. The reality of us living so far from many of our friends set in again.
Early in the month, we got a one-two punch that sent us reeling. Left hook: I lost my second part-time work project, the one I started in August. It cut my guaranteed monthly income by more than half.
Uppercut: Cool Mum started to have the feeling that she should go to Florida to be with our families and old friends during the winter. She suddenly had no commitments in NYC on her calendar. It was an unshakeable feeling, a deep intuition in her bones, and I supported her. On October 9th, Cool Mum and the Cool Bros flew down to Florida with no return flights booked.
I stayed in NYC, promising myself to use the newfound quiet in the house to increase creative productivity at least threefold. I would write my book. I would turn the Cool Bros’ room into a simple recording studio and make music. I would work out every day.
I gained neither chapter nor song – only a few pounds. After three weeks away from my favorite people in the world, I drove down to begin my own Florida vacation. On my way down, I slipped by Hurricane Sandy, who wrecked NYC the following day.
November saw my grandma turn 90, a trip to NYC in which I documented some of the Hurricane Sandy relief, and thousands of calories consumed on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, in Florida, CM discovered her gift as an artist. (Another post entirely.)
While in Florida, CM and I talked nearly everyday about NYC. When were we going back, and what would we do when we returned? And then we had one of those conversations that turned everything around, again.
During a Chipotle date, she told me about a dream. She actually had this dream a couple of weeks before – about our future in NYC – but she wanted to wait to tell me. She hoped that I would have a similar dream, and that would be a confirmation that we should follow it. However, I never had a matching dream, so she decided to just tell me.
She had been asking God for insight on returning to NYC. Her dream was about the Upper East Side, those 200+ blocks of Manhattan where we first set down when we moved to NYC. We left the UES when we had Cool Newbie and needed more space. Her dream said that we needed to go back – that the neighborhood was calling us and that her calling awaited there.
Though I didn’t dream about it, I had been thinking about the UES, too. I left Manhattan kicking and screaming, conceding that it was what I had to do for the good of my family. CM and the Cool Bros would be happier in the larger spaces that we could afford in the Bronx. However, now that Newbie was older, I wondered what CM would think about moving back to the UES. I didn’t mention it because she loved our house and neighborhood in the Bronx. However, her dream was the answer.
Cue older Kevin Arnold voice: At that moment in Chipotle, I realized something: we finally had a unified vision for our future. We both wanted to return to the Upper East Side, closer to our church family, closer to work opportunities, closer to concerts on the Lower East Side, closer to the Met, closer to Two Little Red Hens. The space would be small, and it would be difficult to be approved for a place as a freelancer. (“What are these pay stubs that you speak of”?) But we’ve always wanted our lives to lived beyond our walls – in the parks, museums and the homes of our friends. While we need to be practical about the needs of the Cool Bros, we don’t want square footage, or lack of, to deter us.
Of course, we already had a commitment to our roommate and our place in the Bronx, that beautiful house that we moved into just six months earlier. The backyard, the grill, the washing machine!!! But just like CM couldn’t shake the feeling that Florida was calling her in October, now the UES was calling us together. We talked to our roommate and landlord to figure out a plan.
We’re still visiting Florida and seeing how to follow our hearts back to Manhattan. We’re talking to our friends in NYC, who have wondered if we fell off the face of the earth. We’re searching Craigslist for potential new homes. We’re praying for opportunities, wisdom and miracles.
If none of this makes sense to you, join the club; we’re the founders. We’re just trying to live a life of following where God leads, raising these Cool Bros the way he wants, and spreading his love to the people around us. That what being cool means to us.
I’m glad that we could finally catch you up on what’s going on with the Cool Fam. Stay tuned.