Saturday, December 29, 2012

chapter nine: moving east

On June 3, 2007, I moved in to the top floor of my aunt and uncle's home in the Chicago suburbs.  I intended to stay only a few weeks or month.  I stayed all summer.  The Summer of 2007 goes down in history as a summer that changed my life.  I had freedom, money in my pocket, and lived with my "summer sister".

I worked 9-5 Monday through Friday, and in the summer evenings and weekends would go for bike rides with my family to get ice cream.  I went to my first Zumba class with Jen.  We went to their gym and their pool and had a true summer.  It was bliss.

In late July, my college sorority sister and roommate from the Beachouse and I decided to move in together in Chicago.  The timing was there and the friendship, and we went out one Saturday in July and found IT.  A two bedroom, one bathroom, teeny apartment that we were way overpaying for... and we loved it.  It was in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, and it was everything.

We moved in on September 1st, and my Chicago life began. I was still dating Scott, and he'd come over throughout the month of September for dates.  On October 11th, we had a going away dinner at Wishbone.  "Going away" because he was.  The next day his job moved him to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he'd live for the next 18 months.  I cried my eyes out when he left, and while I knew it was necessary, it also seemed unfair.  The fun part of life was really beginning, and he was leaving.

I missed Scott... but I was also having FUN.  I had a bunch of girlfriends in Chicago, and lived just blocks from Wrigleyville.  Pam and I would go out and stay in and drink wine and host "SVU-ing parties" on Tuesday nights.  (Law & Order: SVU-viewing parties).  I ate sushi for the first time.  I tried my first Guinness.  I drank margaritas.  I went to concerts.  I fell in love with country music.  Pam and I had a girls weekend where 10 girls slept on every inch of floor space in our 900 square foot slice of heaven.  I hosted a girls weekend with three of my beloved cousins where we drank (and then danced) our asses off before stumbling home at 5am in a cloud of laughter and bud light.  I learned the Soulja Boy dance, and went for walks by the lake.  I got my first smart phone.  I turned 24.  I had my parents and brothers overnight for the first time in my own place.  I joined a gym, and got my first credit card.  Ihad Dan, Barb and Jen over for dinner.  I laid out on our rickety front porch.  I made my first batch of guacamole.  I learned how to properly hail a cab, cut a tomato and clean a bathroom.  I balanced my checkbook and paid my own bills.  I learned how to book a flight, and then booked one.  And then another one.  And then another one.  And the destination was always Charlotte.

When I think about Kenmore street, I think of being young (and a little crazy).  It was fun.

The months passed.  We renewed our lease.  And before I knew it we'd lived there for almost two years.  And by then we were ready for the next big thing, and for me, that meant living alone.  I knew that Scott and I were the real deal.  We'd talked marriage and looked at rings.   And before living with a husband (for the rest of my life) I wanted to live alone.  I had never done it, and I wanted to.  So I went apartment hunting - first by myself, and then with my parents.

The moment I walked in to the apartment downtown (and saw the view of Lake Michigan) I knew.  That would be my new home.

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