The Basement Dwellers

I once lived in a basement apartment. It was in a two-fare zone out of the Flatbush Station on the 2 Line. That is, I needed to pay one fare to take the subway home from work, and then another fare (to bus or black cab) to get to the apartment, which was at 59th and Ralph Ave in Canarsie.

My girlfriend Sonja, who would later become my fiance, and still later my ex-fiance, and I lived there at the beginning of our relationship. It was 1986, and I was in New York City for the first time. I’d joined the US Coast Guard Reserve, was fresh out of boot camp (Cape May, NJ), and based on Governors Island for what was supposed to be six months of Electronics Technician training before returning home to California.

I’d started falling in love with NYC from the moment I got there and meeting Sonja, well, that sealed the deal. Quickly. I didn’t end-up moving back for another six years.

We’d met in Washington Square Park, setup by Missoni, her roommate at the time. Missoni was like no other girl I’d ever dated. She’d only let me kiss her once, a brief peck on the lips, during the time we were together. I guess she sensed that things wouldn’t work-out for us, so she arranged for me to meet Sonja.

Anyway, in time, I moved into the apartment, and Missoni moved out. The apartment had a good-sized living area, a very small kitchenette attached to the living area, and a small bedroom with large pipes running overhead. Two shafts outside the living area brought some very limited light down from the sidewalk. In the hallway, there was a toilet closet and two showers that we shared with the adjoining apartment, which was rented by two guys from Haiti. (The landlord, as was much of the neighborhood, was Haitian.)

Disclaimer… my memory is not the best, and it is 11:33 pm as I post this. Things above might be a bit jumbled. πŸ™‚


  1. is that your jogging jacket hanging out? and the boots? are there basement apartments in beijing? and, it all made perfect sense even if it is late and you are ready to go to bed. you did have (and, i assume still have) a real love for new york. what a great city.

      1. i thought it could be in beijing or new york…and that you had posted an old photo from new york. maybe, i need to get some sleep!

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