When New York Apartments Stop Being Polite and Start Being Real

MY APARTMENT-HUNTING VIRGINITY is gone and I’ll never get it back. Onward and upward. We venture deeper into Brooklyn and away from any sense of neighborhood familiarity.

“We are near the auto zone, though,” says my companion.

“JESUS CHRIST IS THE LORD,” says the hugest storefront church in the world. (this church : regular storefront church :: Costco : corner store). Soon we arrive at apartment number two, on Fulton Street, right above Hoopz Lounge.

This apartment sprawls but makes no sense: it is maze-like. Three entrances, two windowless common spaces, two bedrooms, one with a small antechamber—a dressing room? Quarters for secret roommates? I don’t know. I don’t need it. I don’t own much stuff, so I’d rather have less space in a better neighborhood. We depart.

On the Franklin Avenue shuttle we fly above the barbed wire and possible prison like majestic birds or something. When we emerge at the Botanic Garden stop, comforting sights greet us. Trees! The Brooklyn Museum! A big school for deaf people! Awesome.

We meet a broker at her office on Washington Avenue and set out for apartment number three. As we walk farther and farther from the Brooklyn Museum, the tantalizing promise of subway convenience begins to slip away. The broker points out a beer garden. The broker points out a bakery. We lose all sense of spatial orientation. All that exists is small talk, heat, and our feeling of purpose.

The Prospect Place apartment we arrive at is fine but unremarkable: a bedroom in front, a bedroom in back, wide kitchen, narrow hallway, and a living room as dark as I’ve come to expect. It has windows, I guess, but they face a brick wall. I could look out into the airshaft and think about my tenement-dwelling forebears.

We trace a more direct route back toward the subway, and realize that our final apartment lies just a few blocks beyond. We pass bodegas galore, markets, and restaurants. The neighborhood seems welcoming and not yet bougie; it puts a spring in our sweaty steps.

The wide lobby of our final building has ornate moldings and appealingly decrepit tile work. It may not be the geriatric Real World, but it’s a level of opulence more suited to my station.

Inside the apartment, the ceilings are high. The rooms (all spacious) bear totally normal relationships to one another. The current tenants show us their many closets, and the back fire escape where a neighbor-lady bums cigarettes. Glorious, angelic light floods every room. No dishwasher, but what are you going to do? I can scrub.

“Get that one,” says my companion. I think I will.

mfischer@observer.com