Wednesday, March 11, 2009


In order to reach retirement, it is advisable to stay alive. Anyone who has lived in the city since 2001 has made some sort of accommodation with the threat of sudden violent death, but leaving that aside, one takes what little health maintenance steps one can, or feels mildly remiss for not so doing.

When I moved into this fourth floor walkup, I remember thinking that the stairs would be a healthful daily exercise, a small contribution toward weight control and heart health. In an excess of enthusiasm I also joined a local gym, imagining toned abs, well-defined arm muscles, the end of the stubborn fatty deposits at the tops of my thighs. My one--or two...glasses of wine in the evening would do me no harm and might possibly do some good. No matter that red wine in moderation is supposedly good for the heart and I prefer white. And as for the moderation part, well--near enough.

The light of an upper floor after years in a basement was invigorating. The view out over the Hudson River from the balcony made me feel positively rich. The apartment itself, while lacking in charm, was well laid out and spacious. The roof at that time showed no propensity to leak.

I was delusional. I have two dogs who need to go outside four or five times a day, who might occasionally get an upset stomach and need to go out in the night; my knees sometimes pop out of joint, making four flights of stairs a feat of endurance; the car has to be moved for street cleaning two mornings a week; gravity exerts its pull on furniture and groceries; the roof sprang a leak that went unrepaired for six months while the condo owners argued over who would pay, so that whenever it rained water streamed down my walls.

The movers flatly refused to bring my piano. It is sitting in my old apartment where I can neither play it nor sell it. The grocery deliveryman is so exhausted by the time he makes his way up here that I have to tip him a small fortune out of guilt. I cancelled the gym in an effort to cut monthly expenses.

On the other hand--although they'll be the death of me, when you do get to the top of the stairs, you have this:


  1. I can identify - except for having the view when I reach the top.

  2. ok joy, i have been living in my fourth floor/top floor walk-up for my entire 28.5 years in park slope. this is a pep-talk. i hauled two babies & strollers, along with everything else, up and down in the beginning. the babies & strollers went away but everything else did not. a little over a year ago, at my advanced age, i added a dog (as you know). crazy as we are, mike & i have settled into a four walk a day routine with her! speaking of mike, he has for all of these 28+ years, hauled heavy, heavy amplifiers and other assorted musical gear up and down on a daily basis. here's the thing: we have definitely talked ourselves into this all being ok because w know that there is NO ALTERNATIVE, however, it is true that we are able-bodied enough to do it and will have no choice but to continue to be. i often think about how fortunate i am to be able to do it and dread the day that i really cannot. in addition, i feel so very fortunate to live in my very apartment with its *many* flaws. i love being where i am, almost on the park, and my gorgeous view. i have also embraced DELIVERY. yes, i have everything, including my laundry, delivered. food--love FD--. wine, dog food, christmas tree, anything. i find that most of the delivery people have very good attitudes and, yes, i do tip well.

  3. Peggy, you're a better woman than I. Aren't you in an Axel Hedman building? If I were not determined to be satisfied with what I have, I might be envious...


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Anglo-Brooklyn by Joy Holland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.