I first moved to the Bushwick/Bed-Stuy border in 2009 with two other ladies, recent college grads. One of my roommates was a freelancer, one was in grad school, and I had a temporary administrative job. We couldn’t have known it then, but as young grads we were contributing to a widespread shift in the neighborhood. All we knew at the time was that we had severely limited funds and happened upon an almost-3-bedroom treasure – near a subway stop in Bushwick – on Craigslist for $1450. We named it Chateau Bushwick.
Of course, our corner of Bushwick was a little different that summer than it is now. Apart from a few Chinese take-out places with bulletproof glass and the requisite bodegas, it was solely residential. Little by little, the neighborhood pulled us in, adopted us. We didn’t know anyone else who lived in Bushwick at the time, so we were completely unaware of the burgeoning “scene” tiptoeing in from the Northwest. We didn’t know of any galleries, or fancy restaurants, coffee shops, or bars. (Unless you counted the strip club two doors down from our apartment – but they charged $7 for a bottle of Corona, so no. Just no. We’ll take our beers canned and in a six-pack, please.)
We discovered that we had everything we needed within three blocks – an apartment with personality, communicative landlords, a huge grocery store, a cheap liquor store, 24/7 bodegas, and friendly conversation with the people we met. Our Bushwick was a village on a remote island that I was relieved to return to after work every day. Chateau Bushwick was where I became an adult and settled down.
I’ve always been a homebody. I go through phases where I try to deny it (“It’s not that I don’t want to go on a trip with you this month. It is expensive. Plus, I have a cat to look after now…”), but the truth is I like to be at home. I, like many, am naturally just as happy curling up on the couch with a movie as I am discovering exciting places to hang out. Over the next five years, Bushwick became more than a neighborhood to explore, it became my home.
But like everyone else in this hot, smelly, [literally] trashy city, I have always loved to occasionally escape. With every deep breath of clean air I inhale outside of the five boroughs, a new part of me is refreshed, revitalized, reborn. It’s temporary, of course. I count down the days to every trip I take, and then once I’m there, just a day or two goes by before I realize how much I’m missing back in Bushwick. The countdown begins again – but this time the endpoint is unlocking my front door.
Sometimes I can’t fathom how much one apartment could have shaped my life. What began as a move of necessity transformed into a long-term home. While I still live at Chateau Bushwick, some things have changed. I adopted a cat, my roommates moved away, and I now have a live-in boyfriend, as he likes to call himself. The rent has been raised but very insubstantially – credit is due to said communicative landlords. If I leave the city, I just may miss the apartment more than anything.
One thing consoles me: My affair with Chateau Bushwick may come to an end, but that means someone else will get the chance to fall in love – with the apartment, the people, the places and the feeling.
This is my slice of Bushwick. It’s a small sliver of a very large pie, but it’s mine to carry with me, even after I’ve gone.