Brooklyn Is Home To a Lot of Young, Hip Millennials. Would Ageism Be a Factor in My Search for a Room to Rent?
On a recent visit from Irvington to Brooklyn, my brother took my sister aside, and, out of ear shot from me, told her with pity saturating his voice that I wasn’t likely to find a room to rent. My prospects were probably nil. Early on I had contacted a high school friend who has been living in Brooklyn since college and told her I was looking for a place. Her response was something to the effect that people looking for rooms were young people.
I have to admit it did seem daunting. Brooklyn has gentrified and is gentrifying still, drawing young professionals from Manhattan to its more friendly, quaint neighborhoods. On numerous times in the past, while out to dinner with my son, I’ve looked around at a sea of Forever 21- fresh faces and wondered if I could blend in without having, what I perceived to be an arrow pointing down at my head reading, “Mom’s in town visiting.”
Listing Project was recommended to me by a friend’s daughter who lives in Brooklyn. It’s a no fee, curated (no brokers or third party services) weekly email that caters to artists and other creative (that word again) types searching for everything from studio space to sublets and long term rentals. The lister posts pictures, price, location, particulars, and info about him or herself. On average, I found ages to be between 28 and 40. Oh dear.
Two postings looked promising-the first advertised two professional women in their 30s looking for someone respectful, neat, who wanted a safe haven to come home to. The other caught my eye-two gay comedians. Maybe they’d be more forgiving? My moving in might provide them with some good material for future acts: The Golden Girl(s) meets Will & Grace?
Zilp zip, nada!
I soldiered on.
I tried the Roomi app and finally heard from a woman who appeared to be in her 50s. The location was perfect but upon arriving the building looked like a fire trap. I followed Maria (names have been changed to protect the innocent) down a very narrow hallway hotter than Hades reeking of cat pee, to a small room still overflowing with the 20- something- tenant’s eerily childish belongings. Pictures are deceiving. My other roommate would be a young man who just immigrated from South America. I liked Maria very much. She had come from Brazil fifteen years ago and was supporting a mother with Alzheimer’s back home. But this is what you get for $1200. a month?!
I did hear from a woman my age who contacted me about a room, but she mentioned it was way out in City Island and, “You’d never know you were in NYC.” Isn’t that the whole point? It was nice to be contacted though.
I persevered, dispelled negative thoughts when they arose, and meditated on exactly what I wanted to manifest.
Next, I heard back from a Listing Project prospect, a psychoanalyst and English Lit professor at CUNY, who was “open to all.” I had no idea how old the person was or what gender, but on a cold windy evening, I was warmly greeted by a young, good -looking guy in a white button down shirt and khakis-early 30s maybe-originally from Vermont. When I stated that I was surprised he answered my email (I could hear my son scolding me, “Stop saying that!”), Monroe replied, “Why? I think what you’re doing is cool.” He told me his mom was relocating to Ireland, and that her fiance was from Camden, Maine. The place wasn’t furnished and he wanted me to split a broker’s fee, so it didn’t work out. But, WOW, I was encouraged. I recall Sally Field’s Oscar win response, “You like me. You really like me!
Shortly after I heard back from three more young listers who were interested. I met Jen and Jeremy a couple in their 30s who advertised, “We love green spaces, outdoor activities, radical ideas, and non violent communication. Communal living a plus.” O.k.a.y ….? Maybe they’re communists?
He actually was a former professional cyclist who now manages a bike shop in Manhattan, and she works in early childhood art education and is studying herbology. Jen’s mom was visiting from Texas when I showed up. Did I detect a smirk? I wondered what she thought of me as a possible roommate. Again, just the sweetest people, but the place was tiny and living with a couple might be a tad too close. Besides, the next morning I was meeting a young woman to see what might be the perfect place.
I had arranged to meet Kim at 11:00 at her apartment only two blocks from my son and brother’s place. Kim is a 32 year- old freelance art director “who likes to illustrate and make puppets on the side” and shares an apartment with only one other roommate and was subleasing her furnished bedroom AND WORKROOM/STUDIO for nine months to attend to a family matter back home in Texas. We had, what I felt was an instant rapport, the place was perfect and in my price range, utilities included. Her roommate was also 32, an archivist for a non profit and described as very laid back and considerate. Since she wasn’t around, we could FaceTime later if I was chosen. Kim was bombarded with emails to see the place, and she would make a decision the next day. I left a little hopeful…something just felt right.
On pins and needles the following day, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer and texted Kim late in the afternoon. When she texted back and asked if I minded if her roommate smoked pot (hell no), I knew I had the place!
And so it goes.
I believe I really did manifest the perfect situation-one roommate and studio space to boot! Unheard of in these parts.
What I find most amazing is how welcoming and open minded these young people are. This experience reinforces that old thinking based on experiences from the past begets the same old future. The science of neuroplasticity says that the nervous system has the capacity to create new neural pathways and connections-we can retrain our brains and thinking -to create a vision of the future we want. Maybe ageism is something we perpetuate?
Recently that same Brooklyn brother took me aside at another gathering and stated that he secretly didn’t think I was going to be able to make the big move. He told me that he was really impressed I had made it happen.
I continue to be blown away. I am incredibly happy. What can I manifest next?
Originally published at http://connieottmannblog.wordpress.com on December 15, 2019.