Living Upstairs

Until I moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2007, I had never lived above street level. I don’t count the one summer I spent in a garret room in Providence, recovering from a break-up by knocking my head against the rafters. And I don’t count that semester I spent in a Dublin dorm room, emerging only for long silent walks in wet weather. These were not homes. They were way-stations.

My first home involving stairs was on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights. In the Venn diagram of local communities, my intersection was shaped by the overlapping of Lubavitchers, West Indians, and the expanding yuppie-dom of Prospect Heights. I lived above an aromatic spot called “Crown Fried Chicken” in a third-floor apartment shared with a good friend from college. A large portion of that sweaty summer was spent even higher up, on the roof, eating endless popsicles.

Living on the third floor posed new challenges. When we moved in, it meant lugging our possessions up two flights of stairs. After cruising home from work in Williamsburg, it meant carrying my steel-framed bike up to our landing. It meant our apartment was hot, really really hot, all night long. But it meant we had roof access and leafy views outside our windows. It was also the first time I’d lived without feet above me. We were the feet! And we didn’t even think about it!

While this was many years before Stairwell’s, before I started noticing stairs everywhere and routinely inspecting them for their more aesthetic qualities, the stairs at 525 Eastern Parkway were a significant milestone in my life. They were my independence — an apartment found, secured, and paid for with my first real job. They were a new life in a new city. I kick myself now for giving the place up just a few months later (so much room! so cheap! right off the 3 train!), but I moved on (and in) to another third-floor apartment that would be my home for the next two years, this time with a lighter bike and air conditioning.

Even though I now live ground-level, I’ve climbed a more metaphorical staircase to a better living situation in a sunnier city, and I find myself with more exciting projects in my lap than I know what to do with. It’s nice to pause on these stairs and reflect, as per the Stairwell’s goal, on what 2013 holds. [SH]