First of all: There was a break in the ongoing Sir Hugo saga (or should I say blog-a?) late yesterday afternoon. By the time it happened, I'd already prepared a post for today, and shortly after that, I had to run off to Williamsburg, to have dinner with Bear Cummings and Sheriff Leonard*. Which is to say I'm going to have to tell you about it tomorrow.
ABOUT MY APARTMENT
I spent part of the weekend very casually looking at apartments in other Brooklyn neighborhoods, as I've been thinking about moving. My current apartment is, in most respects, hard to beat: I have two skylights, four other big windows. There's a view of a few big trees (and the neighborhood kids riding their bikes) out front, a view of a lush garden in the back, and at night, I can see the moon sometimes, through the skylight. For Brooklyn--where many apartments come only with a view of the next building, a deserted alley, or (if you're lucky) the KEY FOOD across the street--this is pretty amazing. Plus, I have plenty of room, including my own private entrance where there is an entire hallway where I can store my bikes and put up my clothes-drying rack when I have fine washables. The place is decadently quiet; too. My landlord is a lamb, a mensch, a prince who not only responds quickly when there's a problem but has also helped me drill holes so I can put up my framed things. And ... I pay $1075 a month!
There must be a catch, you say.
ABOUT MY NEIGHBORHOOD
And of course there is a catch: While my neighborhood is quite attractive--full of gorgeous old buildings and tree-lined streets--it's also kind of far away from the real action in Brooklyn. While we have a few great shops and eateries, including a great new "destination" restaurant, as well as a small weekly farmer's market, there's not much to do around here. I bump into my neighbors here all the time--like Kabir, the adorable Pakistani father of four across the street--but most of them are married or at least coupled up. And I know that being so far away from everything does, occasionally, put a damper on my social life; sometimes, I just don't have it in me to bike for 10 or 15 minutes to get to the closest "cool" neighborhood so I can go out and have some fun.
ABOUT HOW WHERE YOU LIVE AFFECTS YOUR ABILITY TO FORM RELATIONSHIPS
But there's another way in which my location might be hindering me: Repeated psychology studies have shown that PROXIMITY (or being physically near someone) is one of the most important things that determines why people end up in relationships together.
And by "being close," I don't mean just living in the same city: One famous 1959 study** found that on a college campus, students living closest to each other were more likely to become friends than those living far apart--and that, as the distance between living units increased, the likelihood of a friendship forming DECREASED.
More recently, in 2008, another study*** found that students who were randomly assigned to sit next to each other during a classroom task were more likely to be friends a year later than students sitting in the same row--who were, in turn, more likely to be friends than students sitting in other rows.
"What is very striking about these studies is that they reveal that that being right next door to someone, or directly across the hall him or her, or in an adjacent seat--as opposed to being in the same building or classroom--makes a difference," says Margaret Clark, Professor of Psychology at Yale University. (I contacted her the other day to discuss all this stuff.) She went on to say: "Very short differences in distance--literally a few feet or yards--matter, when it comes to forming relationships."
Why is that?
"When one literally 'bumps' into someone else--or comes close to it [by crossing paths on the sidewalk, for instance]-- one has a ready made excuse for talking. One doesn't have to make it obvious that he or she has picked the other person out--and therefore, he or she doesn't have to risk rejection."
So would being in a different neighborhood--one with more foot traffic--improve my chances of finding someone simpatico? Sounds like it would. Maybe I should move. Maybe you should, too.
*Bear Cummings and Sheriff Leonard are their PORN-STAR NAMES!
**By Festinger, Schachter & Back
***By Back, Schmukle, & Egloff
Steph: This line made my weekend: "It's strangely comforting to know I'm not the only totally awkward, insecure HOTTIE out there." I'm not sure I deserve that kind of praise--but I'll take it!
everyone else--including other new commenters (like the girl from Memphis and Chocolate Yumm): i am hearing you on the Hugo issue but I'm not going to say much more than that till tomorrow! (also, Raye, I am glad you preceded your comment about how neurotic I am being with an assurance that you still love me.)