Today the block is once again surrounded by trailers: they’re going to be spending the better part of the next few weeks filming Titanic II in my building. It’s funny, I spent a lot of time in southern California, and rarely saw movie stars, and in New York they come to my house.
I also kind of get why it is that people become attached to their buildings in New York. I’ve lived in a lot of places, and although some had a kind of a backstory–the former Navy barracks in Seattle, the former crack house in Buffalo–most lacked any kind of character. This is a 1929 building; not all that old by New York standards, but you do get a bit of the feeling of that history.
We don’t have doormen any more, since the doors are electric (leading to all sorts of interesting problems for our conservative Jewish residents), but we have “concierges.” Frank, our oldest concierge, retired last week after working here for 60 years. When he left, he gave a short talk, the text of which was left in the lobby. As part of that talk, he reminisced about some of the people who had lived in the building: actors, writers, musicians. It seems some people have been living here since the building was built, and are probably paying rent that seemed steep in the late 1940s. Some of the folks in the building are mythically old–Yoda old.
As for the rest, it’s the mix you might expect on the Upper West Side. Several professors and lawyers, as well as some writers. Next door is an opera teacher, and on weekends we hear arias. Sometimes these are in conflict with the musicals being practiced in two of our other neighbors’ apartments. As far as I know, we’re the only apartment on our floor without a piano.
It’s a bit strange getting used to living in the city. We lived for a short while on Capitol Hill in Seattle, a block from the main strip, and at the time, it felt pretty urban. This so trumps that. When I took the job up in Connecticut, I made a pitch for living half-way between, so that Jamie and I could split commutes. In practice, Jamie already had the long commute–in Japan she spent even longer on the train than I spend on my back-and-forth–and so now it’s my turn. Besides, this is the sort of place that we knew we liked right away, and has, over the last two years (!), started to feel familiar and, well, homey.
At this point, I think it would be hard to get us to move anywhere in the US besides New York City, back to California, or over to Hawaii.