Top Floor of Brownstone


Location Park Slope

Rent $1500 (market)

Square feet 850

Occupants Summer Poole (model, jewelry designer, owner of Summerjoy Designs), Aaron Snipe (investment firm analyst)

You once lived next to a volcano. And there were earthquakes every other day. What a time! [Aaron] Kajiki, in rural Japan. At first, it was very unsettling. My neighbor had chickens. They went nuts before an earthquake. Animals sense it first. After I graduated from law school, I taught there for two years. In one year, I read 51 books. I had so much time to reflect. [Summer] He reads constantly. [Aaron] I’m from Boston. My mother works for the Christian Science Publishing Society. My father was a poet, a mortician. I’m from a biracial family, only child. [Summer] I am, too, from Detroit. One side of my family is cops, the other is really rich lawyers. We met in 1996, at Boston University. We were together a year and then I went to the University of Grenoble in France and Aaron went to Japan. Then I was in Niger, in the Sahara Desert. Even though I’m a water person, I liked it. It was peaceful. There were no insects. [Aaron] You got malaria. [Summer] Well, there were mosquitoes near the river. I worked at a hospital with children who had malnutrition. I lived in a compound—sand and cement. There was a fence around it with pieces of glass cut up and stuck on top.

I’ve heard that in countries where they can’t afford barbed wire or maybe they don’t want to use it, they use glass. The late A.K. Ramanujan wrote a poem about a place in India where “yellow trees bend over broken glass and the walls of Central Jail. . . . ” [Summer] In Niger, the earth was orange, very hot, 130 degrees in the daytime. In 1998, I got a job in New York and I got this apartment. [Aaron] The only reason I came back was because she was here, but I was kicking and screaming. [Summer] We both love to travel. Aaron’s going into the Foreign Service within 12 months. Every two years, we’ll be in a different country. [Aaron] I’m going through security clearance right now.

The Foreign Service! Kim Philby, drinks at the officers’ club, escaping over the Turkish mountains! Not that I’m MI-5 or anything. The CIA is a separate agency. For the Foreign Service, you choose one of five cones. I’ll be working in public diplomacy, interpreting cultural trends for the ambassador.

Likely story! You should see The Tailor of Panama. Though you don’t want to end up like Pierce Brosnan. I’m so envious of you. I’m dying to get out of here, though I don’t know where I’d go or what I’d do when I got there. On the way over, I saw boxes being unloaded on the sidewalk—pears from Argentina and squash from Mexico, and I don’t know where the brussels sprouts were from. But I was reading the boxes, dying to trade places with the vegetables, or rather go where they came from. [Summer] I always feel I need to get out of New York, a little claustrophobic. [Aaron] I definitely feel restless, but I love this apartment, the neighborhood. There’s the park. I’m a runner. You have lesbian couples, biracial couples.

Women on Seventh Avenue carrying yoga mats, babies, and coffee beans. [Aaron] In Boston, I never felt I was part of a community. I think Boston’s a racially segregated, provincial city—though beautiful. I was a Park Ranger there doing historical walking tours.

Boston is cold. [Time passes. We discuss other things. Then . . . ] [Aaron] I collect stamps.

You were an only child and stamps were your little world! No! I started collecting as an adult. Japan is renowned for its printing of stamps. I thought stamps were interesting snippets of culture, time, history. Look at this one from the Republic of Niger—a Jerry Garcia stamp. And here’s a gold one. [Summer] The man on it was president. I don’t know his name. He was assassinated in ’98. It’s always a journey looking for a post office in a country. We ask for stamps. [Aaron] They say, “Why would you want to collect these? Why not just mail the letter. Here, give us your letter.”