Today is September 1st. Exactly 1 year ago today, our moving van was double parked on a one-way street and we were hauling load after load of boxes and furniture through a little courtyard and up a flight and a half of stairs. We had come from 3 years in the small town of Newark, Delaware, and were eager to hit the big city.
We have not been disappointed . . . but it didn’t start that way: my first glimpse of the apartment was dismal. We had caught our complex in the middle of a management change, so there were no on-site landlords. Thus, our apartment had not been cleaned. From the filthy toilet and bathtub to the grease-covered stove and oven to the dirt-encrusted window sills and sticky hardwood floor with mysterious stains and spots, it was all looking very depressing. To flesh things out (sorry, gentlemen please avert your ears) let’s just say it was also ‘that time of the month,’ which made the disgusting toilet seat staring me in the face, soiled and stained by the previous resident, an even uglier prospect. It’s just not what a girl needs at that time in her life. After hearing my husband’s enthusiasm for the place, seeing it in person for the first time brought me to tears. I held them back as I lugged the boxes up the flight-and-a-half of stairs. My husband could tell something was wrong, but I knew that if I spoke I would completely fall apart, so I held my tongue and prayed that the waves of disappointment and frustration would stop soon, or at least become more bearable.
Thank God I held my tongue! The waves passed as we continued to work, and that evening was spent scrubbing the place down. A short Vietnamese man on a bicycle showed up with a bucket of cleaning products and removed the layer of dirt from the bathtub. Management replaced our toilet seat on day 1 and replaced the oven a day or two later. They fixed our electrical issues and installed a missing light fixture in our bathroom.
My parents decided to stick around for the rest of the week to help us out; what that meant to my husband and me, they will never know. I seriously don’t know what we would have done without their encouragement and know-how. My Dad made almost daily trips to the local hardware store to get mysterious objects that did things like level the bookcases on the uneven floor and color in rubbed-off spots or scratches on our wood furniture. I may even know now that these objects are called “shims” and “wood markers.” Are you impressed? Anyway, some day I need to brag about my parents’ incredible handyman skills. They have remodeled every house they’ve lived in, building cabinets and beds, tiling walls and floors, tearing down and building up walls–wow. Mom, Dad, are you sure I wasn’t adopted? And could you please confirm that you’re proud I now know the word “shims”? It’s important for my self-esteem.
Dirt was scoured away, the kitchen floor was scrubbed and waxed, holes were drilled, boxes unpacked, and a wonderful trip to Ikea (which has made me a faithful follower) resulted in a butcher’s block to add counter space to our kitchen, shelving for the kitchen and bathroom, rugs for the living areas, and a myriad of other things that made our place more comfortable and home-like. I was starting to feel a lot happier.
God blessed me with a job 6 weeks after moving to Chicago. Broadway Armory Park is right next door, where I take yoga classes. The library, grocery store and El stop are within about 3 minutes of our door. I love our Thorndale stop, and I never want to forsake it for another. Here it is in the glorious Saturday morning light:
Our neighborhood is safe, and we live on this beautiful tree-lined street.
And I haven’t even mentioned the beach yet, which is only 2 street East and keeps our place cooler than most on hot summer days.
I have to ask myself–could it be any better? I don’t think so–at least not ’til heaven.
Here are some shots of our apartment as it stands, one year in. In the morning a yellow glow just floods the house, and combined with the smell of coffee wafting from our trusty pre-programmed coffee maker–well, I love it. We’ll start in the 2nd bedroom:
We split the livingroom into 2 areas; the computer area:
. . . and the main area:
We also split what was a huge dining room into an eating area . . .
. . . and a little library. This is my favorite spot to sit on a slow Saturday morning, with my Bible and coffee in hand.
My husband also loves playing the guitar in this space.
There is an open bookshelf between the two areas that houses both books and dishes. And yes, those are Baileys glasses. If you have never experienced Baileys (or any Irish cream, really) in your coffee, your life has not been what it could be. But it’s not too late for anyone! Don’t give up on yourself yet!
On Saturday we had a celebratory breakfast at our local diner, one of my husband’s favorite neighborhood spots.
We walked down to the lake . . .
. . . and then had a spontaneous day out and about in the city, which included seeing the movie “Inception” downtown (definitely recommend it), visiting the Art Museum, and going to an open-air ballet performance at Millenium Park.
So a word of encouragement–if you have just moved or experienced a life change and are feeling overwhelmed, appalled, and despairing, that’s where I was 1 year ago today. And yet the past year has been one of the most peaceful and happy ones that I can remember. This city and this apartment has been my favorite place to live, my new job has been my favorite place to work, and this has been one of our best years of marriage.
Tonight my husband is in Oklahoma visiting our friend Tyler, and I’ll be here in the apartment eating some Arroz a la Cubana . . . but I’ll be pouring a little glass of something or another to quietly toast our 1 year anniversary in Chicago, looking forward to an equally awesome Year #2 ahead.