FOF neighbors, Linda and Carol, have become my good friends. Although we have every intention of remaining close, we will, sadly, no longer be neighbors. I am moving back to a co-op I own, five blocks away , this Friday; Linda will be moving to a condo she’s buying, uptown and crosstown, in a few months, and Carol and her family are moving to the other side of the building in two weeks. All these moves were precipitated by the purchase of the apartment building where we live, which the new owners are converting from rentals to multi-million dollar condos. They didn’t renew my lease, they won’t renew Linda’s when it’s up in a few months, and although Carol has over a year left on hers, they’ve asked her to relocate to the North side of the building so they can start gutting her current apartment. The owners couldn’t force her to move since she still has a lease, so they’ve created great financial incentive.
The moving process is a big-league pain in the neck, time consuming, arduous and costly, but the three of us are dealing with it as you’d expect from FOFs: With excitement, anticipation and good humor. This will be Linda’s third move since her husband died four years ago, but she’s looking forward to returning to her old neighborhood on the West Side. One of the most marvelous writers in New York, or anywhere, she’s deciding which room in her new place to make her office, where she spends a great deal of time. She also loves to entertain, so she wants her new living room to be warm and inviting. She is sad about one thing she’s leaving behind–a working fireplace. Those are rarities in Manhattan.
Carol is moving to a slightly- larger apartment, which is being adjusted to accommodate her son Tucker’s wheelchair. She’s thrilled about its eat-in kitchen , but not too thrilled with the apartment’s exposures, which will give her less natural light. I’m giving her custom window shades and a few ceiling fixtures from my place, since I wouldn’t be using them in my new apartment. I’m happy they’ll have a good home.
I have moved my apartment and office more times than I care to remember. Every move, however, has given me the chance to shed myself of all the useless stuff I’ve accumulated in between moves, including impulsive clothing purchases, drawers full of bits of meaningless paper, instruction books for gadgets I discarded years ago and fast-multiplying paper clips, staplers and pens.
I am now in a truly minimalist phase. I want uncluttered tabletops, drawers and closets. I want fewer pieces of furniture, decorative accessories fighting with each other for attention and books I have absolutely no interest in reading. I don’t need hundreds of CDs, my back taxes from 1988 and a magazine article I wrote when I was 27.
Everyday life has enough confusion. I no longer seek it at home. I can’t wait for Linda and Carol to see my new spare apartment. Home furnishings experts may say accessories give a place character. I say that my friends and I will give it all the character it needs.