On the eve of our big move, I have this need to honor, to remember, to sanctify, somehow, the home in which we spent the last two and a half years or so. As always seems to happen, I have this fear that I’ll forget, and somehow deny the significance of, all the marvellous and challenging things that happened in our duplex apartment on Warren Street, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. So, without further ado, let me reflect and record my memories.
When we moved from temperate California, winter had its frigid, wind-whipped but decidedly solid grip on our little neighborhood in Brooklyn. I remember our first breakfast out at a cafe on then-desolate 4th avenue — everyone else had taken shelter from the cold — wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. The first few nights, we had to sleep on an air mattress that lost 90% of its loft as we slept — me 4 months pregnant, and thankfully not yet in the most uncomfortable stages of pregnancy. Our possessions arrived on Christmas Eve, and we made an effort to decorate, and celebrate, our last Christmas as a family of three.
Spring came, and, under the snow, we found a gorgeous, inspiring community garden across the street, wonderful neighbors with kids near ours in age, and a vibrant neighborhood full of unique restaurants and shops — some of them even kid-friendly.
- Sitting out on the deck looking for fireflies with Callum, then, once back inside with the lights out, seeing a streak of light across the bedroom — one of them had gotten inside!
- Pushing Callum uphill to his day care along the bumpy sidewalk, both gigantically pregnant and, later, with tiny Rory snuggled into a sling.
- Many times, after Rory was born, I’d sleep in the front bedroom near his crib, while Michael slept in the back bedroom with Callum. Those nights, I’d do my nightly book reading in the dark, on my BlackBerry. When the windows were open, and sometimes when they weren’t, I’d hear the sounds of the sidewalks. To the click of high heels or the thump of more solid footsteps, I’d hear snippets of heated conversations — snatches of dramas played out as strangers passed by our street-level windows.
- Callum grew from a barely-speaking 2.5 year old, into a potty-trained, verbal, big brother, so proud of “my baby,” as he’d call Rory.
- Rory was born in Manhattan, came home in “The Biscuit” (our red Ford Focus wagon), and grew into a train-loving toddler with shaggy brown hair and luminous blue eyes.
- It was on Warren Street that I began to wonder about Rory’s speech development. He had two evaluations through early intervention before we started private speech therapy out of frustration with the system.
- Meanwhile, Callum was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder, and began receiving twice-weekly occupational therapy and help from a Special Education Itinerant Teacher. I was introduced to the bureauracratic nightmare that is the IEP process here, and thought often of my mother, who was a speech therapist and worked in special education for much of her career.
- With us through most of the trials and tribulations was our wonderful, sweet, Mexican nanny, Luz, who helped the children learn scattered words of Spanish, and gave them so much love. I’d come home to find that she’d bought Callum a new pair of shoes, something I’d been meaning to do, but never got around to. She has been a godsend in that way, doings I didn’t even realize needed doing, and making our lives richer.
- The pumpkins we unwittingly grew the first growing season, and the tomatoes, carrots, basil and thyme that burgeoned over our second summer.
- We were blessed with a well-endowed playground, the Park Slope Playground, in a few blocks walking distance. It has climbing and sliding structures geared toward both younger and older children, a water feature in summer, and a wide, open yard for scootering, soccer and baseball.
- Michael and I stayed up late one November night in 2008, and heard the shouts of excitement on the streets when it was announced that Barack Obama, the nation’s first Black president, had been elected.
- The snow. (We had some amazing feet-deep snowstorms on Warren Street, and had some very memorable sledding sessions in Prospect Park.)
- Playing ball on the stoop. (The boys would sit up on the stoop and throw the balls down. Grown ups stood on the sidewalk, throwing the balls back up and fishing the occasional one out from under a parked car. This game often involved neighbor kids, and parents, also hanging out on their stoops in the evenings.)
- A bigger bed, that you can bounce on better. (We’ve spent the last few months in a temporary furnished apartment, a bed and breakfast, really, and the bed isn’t as springy as our own.)
- Going to school. (Callum started Pre-K, his first real school, while we were living on Warren Street.)
Goodbye, Warren Street, we will miss you!