As a child I remember being taught to fear the outer boroughs of New York. They comprised this magical, yet dangerous unknown that tried and true Manhattanites dared not explore. And yet I wondered what lay beyond; a whimsical world of wonder, perhaps? At 22, I took the plunge, boarded the train, crossed over the bridge, and began a love affair with Brooklyn. But only accidentally.
You see I have a no good, very bad habit of getting lost in paperbacks. Of regaining a hold on reality only once the damage is done– the stop has passed– and the train has reached the inevitable end of the line. Only when I find myself in the midst of mini-Moscow, a.k.a. Bay Ridge, a.k.a. the last stop on the R train do I realize my mistake.
But instead of indulging my inner Woody Allen neurosis, I have learned to remain calm. Seemingly cool. And an itty bit collected. “Never let ’em see you sweat,” right? And so I decide to explore, to take the advice of Nora Ephron- whose memoir is responsible for my current predicament– and view Brooklyn as a perfect remedy to my continual bout of wanderlust.
Not prepared to take on Mother Russia, I board the Manhattan bound R-train and exit a few short stops later in Park Slope– not exactly the hood, but certainly unlike a world I have ever experienced. Every man is attached, not to his wife, but to his baby. Which is to say every man is instantly attractive. Just as men unconsciously inspect women for child bearing hips (though my brief romantic history indicates otherwise), every woman studies men as they interact with small children. And as I observe excellent father material up close, I begin to wonder if this mysterious little neighborhood should be where I aspire to raise my kids.
But rather than ruminate on an improbable future, I turn my attention to the task at hand. I begin to wander 5th Ave, a street unlike its Manhattan counterpart, and take in the beauty of this urban-suburban oasis. A neighborhood that is defined by its brownstones, Park Slope reminds me that it is possible to have your cake and eat it too– assuming you are, of course, a member of the one percent and can afford to purchase a historical home on one of its central avenues.
And did I mention the food? There is no shortage of restaurants to explore or bars to frequent. Moses, there’s even a bar that serves unlimited FREE popcorn. It’s also within walking distance of BAM, which is my new favorite cinema/ballet/opera house. Sorry, MET, it’s not you, it’s BAM! I had the fortune of meeting a Nora Ephron disciple, a.k.a. my doppleganger, a.k.a. Lena Dunham there a few short weeks ago, and well, cliche as it may be, my life has never been the same.
That is to say my brief and wondrous exploration into the unknown was exactly that– brief and wondrous. And one I have repeated many times since, sometimes deliberately, but often accidentally– such as today when I completed Nora Ephron’s final memoir, one she wrote only two years before she died, and aptly titled “I Remember Nothing.” Not even my tendency to miss my stop when I begin reading her prose.