Two-Story Brick House


Location East Flatbush, Brooklyn

Rent $1000/mo. (market)

Square feet 1300

Occupants Aisha Bascom (customer satisfaction manager,; Kaylan (two months old); Syron Martin (owner, Buttafly Cafe)

This street with all the brick houses and green awnings is so . . . [Syron] Goody-goody. Our family is all goody-goody. They don’t drink, don’t smoke. Aisha and I are cousins. Her mother, my aunt, owns this house and lives in the one next door. Aisha moved here last September. I joined her.

On the way over, sitting on that bus moving up Utica Avenue, it was all travel agents, kidney dialysis places, used car lots. It’s really suburban over here. [Aisha] I’ve lived on this street since I was in third grade. Though I went to boarding school in New Hampshire, then Cornell. I’m 23. This neighborhood used to be Italian, Jewish, lots of African Americans who had city jobs. In the last five years, there are a lot of new families, mostly Caribbean, nurses. [Syron] I’ve lived all over Brooklyn. [Aisha] His mother’s a roamer. [Syron] She was always trying to find a better place for me and my sister.

Let’s talk about why there’s not a lot of furniture in the house. [Aisha] I’m a minimalist. At school, my parents tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible. They bought me all this stuff. In three months, I gave everything away—36-inch TV, comforter set, man-sized teddy bear, stereo system. Anything that took up space seemed awkward. I think it’s because when I was growing up, my parents were divorced. I stayed at both my mother’s and father’s but I never settled into one place. I never adopted anything of my own. Also, I’m the type of person who likes thinking what the possibility of a space is. I can spend a half-hour a day thinking what I would like to do with the space, but I never do it because if I do, I will decide it’s not the right decision. The idea in my head, I enjoy that more than actually manifesting the creation and it not living up to my expectation. [Syron] Aisha’s weird.

You don’t have any furniture in your room either, maybe because you spend all your time at your café in Prospect Heights, which your high school English teacher helped you finance when she ran into you working at an ice cream parlor, which sounds like something that happens on TV. Who needs drawers? If I have everything on the floor, it’s easy to see. [Aisha] I just believe I need the bare necessities. When I had the baby, I didn’t want people to give me anything I couldn’t convert to something else. The crib is good because it converts to a toddler bed. I tell people, Do not give me anything that’s not practical, it will set my day off. There has to be a purpose. I don’t have a nightstand. I use the box with the baby stroller in it. [Syron] It makes complete sense. [Aisha] My friends came over two weeks ago. I hadn’t gone through all the stuff from the baby shower. I said to my aunt, What do you do with certain things you don’t need, call the Salvation Army? My aunt almost lost her mind. She said, You don’t say that in front of people who gave you gifts. I said, Well, someone bought me a Moses bassinet. What am I going to do with that?

Put the child in it and float it down the river. This is 2001. Of course, the other day I stopped into a furniture store, a discount across from Macy’s. This guy was selling this armoire. I have no purpose for an armoire, nothing to put in it. The armoire reminded me of one in a book from my youth—Victorian, dark wood. I will buy something like that even though it has no practical use. The armoire reminds me of a time when I was feeling a certain way. So it does serve a purpose, because when I look at it, it connects me to something else. The bassinet connects me to nothing. I’m getting aggravated thinking about the bassinet.

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