Thank you to Guest Author, Joanie Leeds, for sharing her moving story. Winner of the Parents’ Choice Award, Joanie Leeds is a musician best known for her work as a children’s musical artist. Leeds plays guitar and sings in the band Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights. See, even famous musicians go through tough moves.
I had high anxiety when I met a man from Brooklyn. There’s no doubt that I was a Manhattan snob. As a singer/songwriter writing indie-rock tunes for toddlers and elementary aged kids, my hood was crawling with children. Literally. My CDs were sold in local neighborhood shops and I’d run into fans and music students of mine everywhere — at Fairway, restaurants and the drugstore. It felt like family. Upper West Side for life! Or so I thought.
Living the Life in Manhattan
Living on the Upper West Side in a studio apartment, I had the perfect alcove layout with my work space separate from my sleeping space for only $1,500 a month. My place had a ton of light, an elevator, a live-in super and laundry in the basement- a total steal for the coveted corner of 79th and Columbus. I used to bike through Central Park to get to my musical teaching jobs and my backyard was the Natural History Museum.
Life was Good. And Then I Met Someone.
Then, Dan entered the picture. A camp friend connected us because I was looking to put a band together. My friend said, “You have to meet this guy.” I hired Dan to play drums and he helped secure the other members of Joanie Leeds & The Nightlights. After many months of playing together, it turned into a relationship and, suddenly, Brooklyn was on the table.
Now Brooklyn Was On the Table
I will paint the picture: I lived in a studio and he lived in a two bedroom… in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For those unfamiliar with Williamsburg, it is the hotbed of all things hipster. Years back it was mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Italian, Hasidic, Polish and still has a ton of cultural diversity like all of Brooklyn in general. Since it’s conveniently one L train stop from Manhattan, the artists and musicians started fleeing the East Village and Soho as rents went through the roof and Williamsburg gentrified.
Suddenly, everything is artisanal, bearded and biking. While it seemed interesting, I felt like leaving my clean, family-filled uptown neighborhood I loved was going to be a rough transition.
I surely wasn’t won over by the graffiti, trash blowing by like tumbleweed on the sidewalks, loud drunken parties and various renditions of “hello mami’s” when I walked alone.
A Nightmare of a Move
The actual move however, was a total nightmare. Hurricane Irene blew though days before the movers arrived (not stressful at all, right?). On our Sept 1st move-in date the apartment wasn’t ready for us because of upgrade renovations. So, we ended up couch-surfing for a few weeks and had to put all of our stuff into storage. We essentially had to move twice. Once we finally moved in and got settled, we had a bed bug infestation a month later, likely by the mover’s blankets covering my mattress. Total nightmare.
How Things Have Changed
Fast forward 6 years later. A lot has changed since then. We married, had a baby. I released 5 more albums, 2 DVDs and we tour nationally constantly. You’d never believe it, but now the neighborhood looks more like the Upper West Side than dirty, gritty Williamsburg. It was the fastest change I have ever witnessed. Back in 2009 when I met my husband, I would go weeks without seeing a child in Williamsburg. Now it’s stroller wars on the sidewalk.
Do I like the movie theater that serves food and booze paired with the movie’s theme? Yes. Do I like that Whole Foods just moved 4 blocks from me? Yes. Do I see that the neighborhood has shifted and lost some of it’s gritty splendor that made it so desirable and cool almost a decade ago… yes, yes, yes.
Living the Life in Brooklyn Now
What I did recognize about Brooklyn is how much I grew to love it. It’s unique. It’s diverse. Walks are never boring with people watching and I have met incredible families through becoming a mother. This has brought a real sense of community- just like I felt on the Upper West Side.
All of this inspiration led to my 8th album for kids, releasing in May 2017 titled, Brooklyn Baby! It is an ode to Brooklyn from the perspective of a child, parent and resident. While I can’t say for sure if I will stay in Brooklyn for life, I am really enjoying my life here currently and glad I moved out of my comfort zone to experience something new.
Sign up for The Art of Happy Moving newsletter for a chance to win a Brooklyn Baby! CD from Joanie Leeds.
Brooklyn Baby! is available for pre-order on Joanie Leeds website: joanieleeds.com. Available on iTunes, CD Baby, TuneCore and Amazon and all streaming sites on May 19th. The winner of the Brooklyn Baby! CD will be notified by May 20, 2017 via email.