Hawaiian Hunch

One-bedroom apartment in tenement building

Location: Upper West Side
Rent: $1410 (market rate)
Square feet: 650
Occupant: Miranda Sutton (actress); dog; two cats

Your story of a search for a home should be in 26 installments. You moved here 1 1/2 years ago. But let's go way back to the early '80s. Your father and boyfriend's father buy you both a flame-retardant sofa from Jennifer Convertibles. That spongy kind. I'd just graduated Syracuse. We lived in this $400 Upper East Side walk-up, horrible linoleum tiles. My boyfriend's father was always getting things cheap. He had a friend who had a warehouse somewhere. Anyway, the woman next door had a boyfriend who was married to someone else, but he kept impregnating her. There were more and more children. She was asking me to baby-sit. When she had her fourth, I had to entertain her three little girls. I put on David Byrne's "Burning Down the House" and they cried.

So why did you move? My boyfriend was never around. He was always off promoting his directing career. A friend gave me an apartment on Ludlow. Back then people lined up on the street for drugs like they were waiting for a movie. One guy was enforcing the whole thing with a long piece of wood with a nail in it. Growing up in Westchester, I thought this was exciting. I was still going to sleep in Lanz flannel nightgowns. I wanted to be a painter at this point. I pushed my bed into the kitchen because I knew artists had to suffer. There were mice. Anyway, I'd started wearing Peter Fox granny boots. I was getting into the whole Downtown thing. I had this lowly part-time job and started dating the boss. Eight months later we were living together in Montclair, New Jersey, in one of those beautiful houses. It was a nice reprieve from Ludlow, but I'd look out the window and cry. It was such a numb place. I felt so isolated.

You got a job doing decorative painted furniture in Hoboken. I talked my boyfriend into moving to a duplex there. There were all these artists and studios. But I never painted very much. I couldn't stand the isolation. I'd fall asleep in the studio. Then my dad died of cancer. I thought, Life is short. I wanted to be an actress. I broke up with the guy, found a $650 basement apartment. I couldn't understand the landlord. He spoke this Italian dialect. We had to clinch the deal with a glass of wine at two in the afternoon. His wife was lying in bed upstairs. She'd had a stroke 20 years ago. She had long white hair. She would moan in bed. My landlord would water my plants. I went to ABC and bought white carpeting. The landlord lay on the floor and cut the carpet. He spilled wine in places. I just felt so isolated. I didn't come to New York to have Hoboken be the center of my life. My dad was the travel writer of his generation. We stayed in four-star hotels all over the world. . . .

He wrote Footloose in France, Footloose in Canada. Your mother was a dancer in My Fair Lady. My dad had to travel so much. He was always away. We lived in Hawaii when I was young. I think a part of me is searching for that Hawaii. Lately I've been looking for another apartment. But the search has been one big nightmare. Two real estate agents asked me out. I really want to be back downtown. . . .

Back on Ludlow?

 
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