My Main Squeeze


‘He’s about to get squeezed a whole lot tighter.’

When folks from my former homeland, The Great American Midwest, visit me here in New York, they are apt to be amazed by how little space we New Yorkers inhabit.

“Where is the rest of it?” questioned one dearly-beloved sister-in-law, when visiting our apartment for the first time. “This is your kitchen?” exclaimed another equally-beloved SIL. (No, I am not being ironic; I do in fact love these two sis-in-laws, in spite of the fact that their homes are vastly more vast than mine.)

The Dude and I share a meal in the dining-room-living-room-office-music-room of our first apartment

I find this interesting because, on a New Yorker scale, this apartment — where I am sitting right now at my sunlit desk cum china cabinet — is considered rather comfortably large. It’s what they call, in Real-Estate-Agent-ese, a “classic six”. That means it has six rooms: living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, and a “maid’s room”. Honest. These pre-war (that’s WWII, and yet another example of colorful NYC real estate lingo) apartment buildings were built when no home was complete without its maid.

That’s my desk in the background, ready for writing. That’s the table in the foreground, ready for Christmas. This is in, ahem, the big apartment we live in right now

Well, maid shmaid. What I really want to talk about today is the, well, going-backwards-ness of our personal space. As it pertains to living arrangements, that is.

The trajectory of our married living arrangements has gone from very small to medium to large and, now, with this latest pied a terre acquisition (which I first mentioned in my bake-some-brownies post, “And Then There Were None”), back to very small again. I feel rather like Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard”: “I am big; it’s the movies that got small.” Only, in our case, our apartment — or at least the one we’ll move into if all goes according to plan — just got very very small.

Me, reflected in the make-the-room-look-bigger (hah!) mirrored wall of the 13×11 living room of the if-all-goes-well new apartment. No, that’s not any of our stuff, thank the Lord of Moving

Very shortly, if all goes well (tons of paperwork to deal with for the closing!) we will be moving from an approximately 1600 sq. ft. apartment to one that is around 350, give or take a precious foot. Adjusting to such a small space will not be a small adjustment. And not only because we won’t have room to swing a cat, but because we won’t have room for our stuff. Any of our stuff.

We weren’t always so stuff-stuffed. In fact, we started out rather spare, with thrift-shop finds and hand-me-downs. Wayne found his couch at a garage sale. And I didn’t even have one. So we slipcovered his, thinking one day we’d replace it with a “real” couch that we picked out from a real store. Well, that was more than 35 years ago.

The Dude’s slipcovered garage-sale couches in action. Want ’em? Child and cat not included

Quick note: When we lived in the one-big-room-with-everything-in-it place and were thinking about having a baby, I asked “but where will we put this baby?” and The Dude, quite reasonably in Dude Reasonableness, answered, “We’ll put the baby where the TV is.” Which is, ultimately, what we did.

That first apartment, Child added. Yes, her bed is located right about where the TV was. And the dining table and the desk and so on and so forth

But time moves on. And so did we. To this apartment of twenty-six years. And twenty-six years of gradual acquisition. Surfaces have been populated, couches have been pillowed, bookcases have been booked. Let’s face it, if you think Nature abhors a vacuum, you haven’t met a New York City apartment.

We have art books piled on top of pianos, which are, in turn, topped with hand-turned pottery, accented by silver whatnots, side-by-side with souvenir statues. Don’t get me started on the candles and their attendant holders. And, if you read last week’s post, “Sitting Pretty”, you are familiar with my crack-cocaine obsession with chairs.

Honestly? It’ll feel good to, shall we say, “de-acquisition” some of this. If you’re in the neighborhood, do stop by for a scented candle. Or five.

New York City. October 2019


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24 thoughts on “My Main Squeeze

  1. Alexandra

    Excited for your new adventure!! I am sure this new apt will be as cozy and welcoming as your current. Xoxo Alexandra

  2. Veronica Nash

    Wow. You have to tell me what led you to this decision. I have a secret dream of a studio apartment in the city and a cozy little house in Bellport. Congratulations.

    • Yes, Wow! I am feeling excited, but absolutely paralyzed at the prospect of dealing with not only the downsizing, but with our broker’s suggestions about how to stage our apartment to sell. Gulp! Will fill you in soon, perhaps over a nice civilized lunch xoxo

  3. I read these and imagine life in a busy NY with an apartment to work from and it feels exciting. You are a world away from my house in fields, surrounded by cows and a garden too big to manage which makes me groan!! Each has its merits!! Another lovely post.

  4. david Mandy

    You’re a great writer, Alice, all heart and wit. Glad this voice has broken through the advertising industry and is all ours!

    • Ah, Carol! I’m only spending three days a week in the City, and I’m in Amagansett all summer. Plus, The Child is out of the nest. It’s an expensive shame to rattle around in our Classic Six. But wrenching to think of leaving xoxo

  5. Colleen Bentley

    Wow — 350! Now that’s not small it’s tiny!! I wish I’d be there for the garage/household sale…not that I need anything, but…
    Plus sorry I won’t see you when I’m in NYC next week. Boo 🙁

  6. Ruth Meisenheimer

    You get more clothes in carry-on luggage than anyone, so I know you can do this. Even though it would be harder for two in the small space. Hope to,see you in Illinois soon!

  7. Unbound Roots

    Happy Downsizing! I’m hoping to do the same in a year or two, though not in NYC scale, but Midwest scale. ?

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