I first visited the building with the courtyard and fountain when I was in the tenth grade, in 1964. My parents had friends who had recently moved to Pittsburgh from New York City. They were very glamorous, and consequently did not need to live in a house with a yard and porch. Instead, they had an apartment in a building that looked to me as if it belonged in Paris.* Turns out maybe I wasn't so far off on that point, as I intend to explain, eventually.
When I was about 8 years old, after driving past the Frick mansion-now, a museum, with my family, I announced that I planned to live there someday. I was surprised when my usually encouraging, "you can do anything you set your mind to" parents expressed major league doubt on that score. ("Not likely", "No, I don't think so, kiddo" and "Wouldn't like to see you marry into that bunch", etc.)
Six years later, when I said I'd like to live in the building with the courtyard, they seemed to find the idea a bit more realistic. And so, it seems, it was.
Last year, fifty-two years further down the road, I had begun to feel less than thrilled with my apartment life. For some time (11 years, and it went by in a blink), I enjoyed the freedom from worry after I finally sold the family-sized house where the redfox grew up, and where Bill had died, very young. The apartment didn't wake me up at night- it was someone else's problem if the roof started to leak, or the furnace died.
But a series of less than exemplary landlords seemed to have no interest in any but the most cursory upkeep. They confined themselves to sprucing up apartments when the tenants turned over, or when they wanted to sell. The place was getting shabby. I had done some painting myself, but I didn't want to invest heavily in a place I didn't own. Anyhow, despite their seeming disinterest in all aspects of ownership not directly connected to collecting money, my then landlords got very proprietorial about decorating decisions. Besides, there are a gazillion steps to the front door, and I've got a bad knee. So, at 60, I started looking for what I hoped would be a place I could keep for the (my) duration.
I was watching the multi-lists, and an apartment in The Building came up. I went to see it; I fell in love (with the apartment- no third parties involved); I made what the real estate agents seemed to think was a decent offer. The owners responded by taking it off the market entirely (for whatever reason- it still is not for sale) and broke my heart.
I kept scanning the listings, but nothing measured up. And then, late this summer, I got the call. An almost identical apartment, just below, was on the market. If all goes according to plan, we close on Thursday. I'm going to have a bit of work done- so far as I can afford to- and move in Thanksgiving week. I plan to tell you more about this than you could possibly want to know.
Welcome, visitors from Toast. I've kept this post on the front page as a sort of introduction to this webblog.. Everything else is the more usual arrangement -the most recent post in first (or rather, second) place. _________________________________________________________________________________________________
* I had not yet been to Paris, and my concept was entirely formed by Ludwig Bemelmans and the Madeleine books.