To distract myself from contemplating the destabilization of nuke-owning Pakistan, I dipped into the cyberpages of The New York Times' 'Home' section, and was amazed to see, like the birth of a star in a distant galaxy, the tale of a CrazyStable being born anew in the Bronx.
My heart goes out to Sherrie and Marcel Deans, who fell in love with this crumbling stone manse in the rough-and-ready East Tremont section of the Bronx, still inhabited by a little old man and his treasures and debris. They estimate a renovation cost of $200,000 but admit that they expect to go "way over budget." Yes, dears.
I was touched by the similiarities to our story:
- They were kind of scared, yet strangely compelled to buy. (Left, Sherrie ascending the stairs--boy, do we know the interior emotional state behind her expression.)
- They have cats patrolling the property.
- They bought into an area still pre-gentrified and "edgy," and have so far found nothing but welcome (and some curiosity).
- They paid "a song" (although their song of more than $650K was a much higher song than ours--about five times higher).
- They still have weird original sconces. (Theirs have shades, ours don't.)
- They found a cool antique bottle. (Theirs was brandy, ours was beer--very apropos.)
And then there are the crucial differences:
- This lovely young couple seem to bring adequate financial resources to the challenge. As opposed to, um, no resources whatsovever except a capacity for self-delusion and frequent restorative naps.
- Their house is made of stone, not wood, so the Big Bad Wolf is less likely to blow it down.
- They have tons of original detail, much of it in pretty great shape. It includes pixie lamps--gosh, I'd kill for original pixie lamps.
- Their house is 16 rooms and 3,300 square feet; ours is 16 rooms and 2,000 square feet, which means their rooms are even larger than ours are. (Good luck heating that baby!)
- Their owner was a quaint and endearing old fellow; ours was a jerk.
- They have their original blueprints; our earliest set dates from the 1940s, by which time the house was already chopped up into its current weird configuration.
- Theirs is a landmark; ours was just an anonymous eyesore.
- And the most critical difference in these tales: The Deans are not moving in just yet. They have wisely deemed their new house 'uninhabitable.' So was ours, but we didn't have any options for doubling up on rent and mortgage payments. So we moved in anyway, and demolition started happening around us--sometimes spontaneously.
Good luck, kids. You'll need it. You'll have it.
Hello young lovers, whoever you are,
I hope your troubles are few.
All my good wishes go with you tonight,
I've been in love like you.
Be brave, young lovers, and follow your star,
Be brave and faithful and true,
Cling very close to each other tonight.
I've been in love like you.
--The King and I, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein II