A couple of weeks into November, leaves were blowing off the trees in en masse and those that remained shivered in the wind. Skeletal branches looked lonely, especially in the late afternoons as they were outlined against a darkening sky. Sunset was at 4:30 and getting earlier every day. The air was cold. At night the temperature was in the 40s. The high temperature during the day was maybe 58° degrees. It was 81° when I had left Austin just a few weeks before. Ironically, four years later, these Brooklyn temperatures would seem warm to me and I could go outside without a jacket on a 55° day. But not that first year.
Parking on the street in front of the house was alternate-side morning and afternoon. That meant, if I was parked on the side of the street with traffic flowing toward Manhattan, I had to throw a coat over my pajamas and go outside at 7 a.m. and move the car. I wasn’t alone those mornings, double parked, as I sat in my cold vehicle waiting for someone to move out of a parking space, headed for work. There were always half a dozen other people waiting along with me to grab up a spot and get back inside our warm homes. At 4 p.m., I had to move the car again for the traffic returning after the workday, which put a weekday curfew on my excursions away from home.
Parking issues got old in a hurry, especially since I rarely drove the car, although I did make a couple of visits to Red Hook and drove to Coney Island once or twice – no way would I drive into Manhattan. On Sunday mornings, the people attending the church up the block had the right to double park on our side of the street, blocking every car from exiting until noon.
I decided to park the car in Park Slope where I could leave it for a week at a time, moving it only for street-cleaning. It now seems so strange to think about parking a mile from home, having to take a train or walk over to move the car, but that’s the City. Unfortunately, because I had to drive around for a while in Park Slope looking for an open spot on streets crowded bumper to bumper with parked cars,
I sometimes got confused about the location where I left my car. When it was time to move it, I had to stroll the streets looking for it. Once, I completely forgot to move the car for street cleaning and got a ticket – called a “summons” in New York. This was one of the two summons I would receive during my tenure in Brooklyn.
The last straw for parking was the day of a blizzard in December. It was 10º and windy. The locks on my car froze and I couldn’t open the door. I stood there for about an hour, trying to unlock the car. Parking Control drove by not offering any help (or a summons either, thankfully). Finally, a man loaned me a cigarette lighter to warm up my car key. After about five tries with the heated key, the car door opened and I got inside where it felt like a refrigerator freezer, but not windy. I moved the car across the street and went home. Immediately, I put an ad online to sell the car. I never missed it.
But in November, something was happening in Brooklyn and the rest of the City in November. There was something in the air. Expectations. Animation. A slightly more positive attitude. Because the holidays were coming…
Post by Alana Cash