Our Own Little Escape from the Sidewalk

Posted by on Aug 18, 2017

Tintype by Margaret Muza

Because I know families share the same life together but often see it very differently, I sat with each member of this family individually, out of earshot of the others, and asked them about their home.

Maya (16): We live in a third floor Brooklyn apartment. It’s only a one bedroom, but it’s still home for us. We sometimes talk about moving because it’s too small, but I don’t think we ever will. Our apartment has evolved a lot; at first, there wasn’t much in it. But then my dad just started putting way too much stuff in there. It was like his eyes were just too big for his stomach when it came to filling up our apartment with things he likes. At one point, it was super messy and he had five chairs stacked up in a random corner. But then we finally got a storage space and things got cleaned out and it’s calmer in there now. Our home is well-loved and in real color, like it doesn’t look like IKEA in there, all generic and bland. It’s unique. Our home in one word would be comfortable.

Heidi: Our apartment…oh wow. So my husband used to be an antiques dealer, and he filled our apartment up with so many chotchkes, just knick-knacks everywhere you look. A lot of them have a brown, dusty look to them. All these things just seem old and falling apart, coming out of every nook in our apartment. Then when there was already too much stuff, my husband got into eBay. And one day I came home to two giant mailbags, like four feet tall. My husband had ordered so many things off eBay that the mailman had just left the mailbags for us. Inside were all these mismatching antique plates, each totally different. It’d be nice to have a dinner party sometime with matching plates but forget about it—I’m like, “Here’s a 500 year old plate from China”. So then he built a hutch to hold all his plates, and I guess it is interesting to go choose your special plate for dinner each night from there. My husband just can’t really help himself. But I do love how there is a sense of history to all we own, and I personally couldn’t dream of living in a place with white walls. If I were to describe our home in one word, I’d say eclectic.

Bradley: I love talking about our home. We live in a classic honeymooner’s style apartment in Brooklyn. It’s very, very small, a one-bedroom, but we’ve been there longer than any other place we’ve lived—16 years. This apartment has seen many changes—it’s gone from being full of every found object we’ve ever run across—I’m talking five chairs just stacked up in a corner—but then my wife started threatening that if I didn’t cut that out with all that stuff we’d have to move, so now we don’t have that much stuff. We live in New York City, in Brooklyn in the hood, and we never lock our door. We’re on the third floor, and we’ve always known our neighbors on the other floors. They’re all good people. Actually, last year we went on vacation and the cat sitter was our landlord’s daughter. She didn’t like that we don’t lock the door so she locked the apartment and we didn’t have a key, so she had to go out the fire escape. We were here in Wisconsin, in Door County, and found out about this and had to call a locksmith. We said, “Well, now we have to lock our door to keep the landlord out.” So I’m trying to say that New York isn’t this mean, crime-ridden place.  You’re safer because there are always so many people around. In Madison or other places with wide-open, more empty walkways, I feel so vulnerable. People in New York use their homes to escape from the sidewalk, which is a beautiful thing. In my home, I feel privacy and pure comfort. I hated being at home as a kid, but now the home my family has created in that tiny apartment is my refuge. One word for our home? Palace.

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