This week we celebrate our first home, Pacific’s anniversary. Cole, one of our first House Leaders and a founding member of Pacific, shares his experience as a member of the community this first year.
Last week, or I suppose by the time this is published, a few weeks ago, a friend of mine from college visited me in New York. This is something that happens with unsettling frequency when you live here, by the way.
At least once a month you’ll get a text message from someone telling you how they’ll be in NYC in a few weeks and how you should meet up and by the way do you have a couch I can crash on? At first, it’s fun and exciting, because who doesn’t want to show off their new home in the big city, but trust me: New York is exhausting enough without having to entertain guests.
Anyways, this friend of mine was one of my roommates in college. He’s visited me a handful of times since I’ve lived in Brooklyn, as he travels up here from Arizona for business every few months. After watching the Roots and D’Angelo and John Mayer play in Bryant Park, my friend made up his mind: He wanted to move here.
Specifically, he asked me about moving in together, seeing as we had already made the roommate thing work in college. It would be so much easier to move to the city if you already knew who you were living with. But he said he wanted to live in the East Village, and I said, well, I guess I could swing that. I’ll look into it. They have good ramen there, and Alphabet City has some stellar drinking bars (drinking bars are like dives but they don’t necessarily have to be dive-y and gross). Plus my commute would be easier.
But then I thought about it some more. I went back to Brooklyn that night, and I remembered how much I really love living in Brooklyn. Crown Heights is, slowly, starting to feel like home. Who needs Central Park when you have Prospect Park?
The next morning, I texted him.
“Hey man, I thought about it a bit and I realized I really don’t wanna leave Brooklyn.”
“You sure? What about East Village?”
“I dunno dude. You can look at places on Streeteasy but you just don’t get anywhere near the quality of place for the money.”
(I played the finances card here. It’s usually more effective than an emotional appeal, Walt Whitman’s musings on Brooklyn be damned.)
“Yeah but that area was sick.”
I thought some more, trying to articulate why I didn’t want to leave Brooklyn. I mean, after all, finding apartments in decent neighborhoods here is just as difficult.
“I guess I wasn’t being totally honest. I really don’t want to leave Common. Why don’t you move here?”
Finding a great place to live, a place to settle in, is certainly a right of passage for your typical New Yorker. I don’t call myself a New Yorker just yet, because there are so many different qualifications you need to get that title, but people do seem strangely attached to their apartments once they find one they love. I can check that one off the list now.
It’s obvious, but New York is a meatgrinder. It’s absolutely exhausting, and I don’t mean just because of work. The demands on your time, whether from work or your social life or whatever, are endless. So, when you come home at night, it’s invaluable to really feel at home.
Common gives me that. Common gives me a place that relieves the burden of the day-to-day cycle, Common helps free up the mental bandwidth needed to stay sane. To read books, watch movies, play video games, meditate, ride bikes, whatever.
I’m coming up on a year of living at Common. I moved into their first house, Pacific, right when they opened up. In this year, I’ve met amazing people – made amazing friends, really – and discovered my place in New York.
Through Common, I started a book club and read more actual books than I ever did in college. Through Common, my name appeared in The New Yorker. Through Common, I discovered how damn comfortable a Casper mattress really is. But beyond all the niceties of a furnished apartment, and the fun of Common outings to places like Lavender Lake or Night of Joy, it’s the interstitial moments that made me unable to move somewhere else.
It’s walking home from the Nostrand Ave stop, and seeing the golden sunset play off the red brick of the armory across the street. It’s approaching the house, and seeing warm yellow light glowing from the windows on the first floor. It’s ordering lo mein and dumplings and drinking cheap wine on a Tuesday night, without planning it and without having any good reason but to prolong the conversation among housemates.
Common is, for me, for now, home. I hope it can be home for you, too.