Yes, you can. And yes, she did. Four years ago, with their children out of the nest, Ms. Colin and Mr. Deas reclaimed their apartment, eager to feel the vibrancy of the big city and to do some stage work.
It would be nice to report that re-entry has been an unalloyed delight. It’s good, for sure, but “it’s not 200 percent ‘Oh, my God, it’s great to be back to civilization,’” Ms. Colin said.
Unfortunately, time doesn’t stand still and neither do real estate developers. When Ms. Colin was in residence in the late ’80s, she could look out past the harbor all the way to the Statue of Liberty. Now, nearly three decades later, she sees instead a phalanx of glass towers whose occupants she routinely spies on and refers to as her pet people “running around their gerbil cages.”
She added, “I’m not going to tell you which international movie star I saw across the way, but he was always in jeans and a T-shirt and looked ridiculously gorgeous.”
Then there was the matter of the building that went up right next door to their condo, making the windows along one wall of the kitchen and the living room useless. Those windows have since been walled up.
“I’m 18 years older, and this is a different city,” Ms. Colin said. “There are huge numbers of tourists. Streets you used to be able to walk down are filled with bicyclists.
“But the more my kids are launched and doing their own thing,” she continued, “the more this life becomes like my previous life, which was the romance with my husband, the pursuit of acting work, exercise and church. This is my apartment for a new era.”
The apartment for a new era still has what Ms. Colin loved about it in the old era: the three terraces, the skylights, the oak floors and banisters (even if she thinks they’re a bit dated) and the 18th-century mantel with the tile surround (Ms. Colin and Mr. Deas did the installation themselves).
Some of what the couple transported to Montclair, like Mr. Deas’s bachelor bedroom set and a wing chair Ms. Colin “garbage-picked,” are back in place. Other pieces bought expressly for the Montclair house — among them an Italian-made expandable dining table and an ornate Pakistani wooden swing that was a Christmas present to Ms. Colin from her husband — were prized enough, and small enough, for apartment life.
“I had to do what all the magazines say: get rid of stuff,” Ms. Colin said. “It was about keeping the things I treasure and not being terribly sentimental.”
Well, maybe a little sentimental. So, of course, yes to the copper-topped table that was a seventh-anniversary present to Ms. Colin from Mr. Deas; yes to the whimsical pink tuffet; yes to the pitcher the couple bought in Mexico, the bowl from Turkey and the pair of hand-carved sticks they bought outside Victoria Falls. But no to the wicker furniture that a hung-over Ms. Colin bought years ago at a garage sale.
The Montclair house was a place for Ms. Colin to get brave and creative. She conjured a bathroom with a steam shower and a four-person Jacuzzi, outfitted with the tiles and sinks purchased on a trip to Mexico. “That was hard to leave,” she said. “But I got much more confident in my ability to design things, and when we came back to New York I redesigned the kitchen.”
Although she met her husband on a television show (“As the World Turns”), and although television has paid many a bill, that’s no reason, to Ms. Colin’s way of thinking, that a TV should broadcast its presence. Their flat-screen is hidden — “and I’m very proud of that,” she said — behind an enlarged photo. Nearby is a statue of St. Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of television, a gift from Don Hastings, an “As the World Turns” cast mate.
Out on one of the terraces, tomato plants and basil are thriving. So, it seems, is Ms. Colin. “I can go to museums, the theater or see friends with 45 minutes’ notice, which I was not able to do in Montclair,” she said.
“And since we’ve been back, all the pets have died and my sons are mostly gone,” she continued. “So I can clean the apartment and it stays clean all week. That’s huge, right?”