FROM the New York Times – Jan 19, 2018
Two years ago, in January, my husband and I walked into a foreclosed house on a tree-lined street in Bedford-Stuyvesant that no one had lived in for 22 years.
“I could really see us having kids here,” he whispered into my ear as we tiptoed over the detritus of squatters and failed contractors.
For the first three years of our marriage we had been living in a series of rentals, but we dreamed of owning, and this was a whole house. A long-neglected brownstone in need of a ton of work, yes, but a house nonetheless.
We went to housing court in Downtown Brooklyn and bid before a judge. By March we had closed. It wasn’t habitable, so we kept living in our Crown Heights rental as we figured out how to do the work, which was tied up by expired permits and mind-numbing construction bureaucracy.
The construction started to take a toll on the marriage. Then, one morning in June, my husband woke up, looked at me and said, “I don’t think I want kids.”
I raced into the bathroom and threw up.
A week later he said he wasn’t going to be moving into the house after all. Instead, he proposed I move in alone and we take a three-month break from our marriage. He would use that time to gather his thoughts and decide when and if he might join me.
“Please come,” I begged, while suffering from night terrors about the children I would never have. He hemmed and hawed for the rest of the summer but ultimately stood firm. We would take the three months.
In October I moved into the house and prayed my husband would come to his senses. I was in terrible shape — emotionally, but also physically. In our five years together, I had gained 45 pounds. I was bloated and depressed. My joints ached. And I was broke. So very broke. I had naïvely imagined homeownership would be seamless and easy. Instead it sapped everything I had, leaving me with a lot of space but no money. Renovations and building permits had been slower and more costly than I had expected.
I was living alone in an empty house with no heat, boiling water in an electric kettle so I could bathe in a bucket. Friends suggested a gym membership might provide a better alternative, but there wasn’t any cash for that. There wasn’t cash for subway fare. So I started to ride my bike.