Carroll Gardens, 1998
I feel nostalgia for practically every place I’ve ever lived in, the exception being a boring apartment I lived in for one year in Binghamton, NY, that had ugly carpeting and a group of guys upstairs who could not stop playing the song “Hotel California” over and over and over again. I was very unhappy there, but it was there that I learned to make hot and sour soup from scratch, even including authentic Chinese fungi (wood ears, I think), which was inexplicably purchased at a nearby Price Chopper.
Aside from that one Binghamton apartment, I feel a longing for pretty much every other place I lived, even the last house I lived in with my ex-husband, which was, physically, a total wreck, but because it was up on a hill had the most gorgeous sunsets practically every night.
On the top floor of a Carroll Gardens brownstone, I would look down at the flowers and trees and wild grapevines that tangled along the stoops across the street and feel like I was somewhere else, Italy perhaps. From my bedroom window in my (second) Astoria apartment I had a perfect view of the entire Triboro Bridge brilliantly lit up at night.
From the living room window of my (first) Astoria apartment I could sometimes see my roommate Rachel waiting on the elevated subway platform across the street. If it was quiet (usually it wasn’t) you could even hear the BING BONG of the subway doors closing. In one of the earliest apartments I lived in in the Bronx, we were close enough to the Stella D’Oro factory that as a child I awakened to the heavenly smell of baked goods every single morning.
As I stepped out of the townhouse I shared with five other people in London, I would wait to hear the first English accent I could (usually from a child because there was a school across the street) to remind me that I was, in fact, actually living in London. Whenever I went for a walk, after stepping out of my lovely country house in Columbia County (a former carriage factory from the 1860s), I would, heading in any direction, eventually pass horses.
I never expected to live in so many places in my life (I have not covered them all here), and there are things I miss from nearly all of them (a claw-foot bathtub, a huge maple tree, a fireplace), though I would never want to go back. I even miss that delicious hot and sour soup, which I made a number of times in that one boring apartment, and which I have never made again (even though I’m sure the local Price Chopper would also inexplicably carry wood ears).
Right now, I look out at that house across the road and I know that one day just the thought of it will bring back a flood of memories and nostalgia and longing. I miss it already.