3 years. That’s how long I’ve been in Chicagoland. It has gone by rather fast. The first year was a whirlwind, life was chaotic. Then, I kind of got a grasp of things, & was “living” a little. Then, it got crazy again. [I mean, it never stopped, but…].
The time I’ve been in Chicagoland, I’ve lived in Edgewater. There was a minor, minor stint in Avondale, but I try & block that piece out. It was so short, it was like it never happened, but that’s where I stayed when I landed. I had only one plan: make it work. I had no idea what the hell was going to happen when I got here. All I had was my last teaching job check from China. All I knew was, I had a month to find a job in order to stay & I did. It was one of the biggest risks I’ve taken, & I’ve taken quite a few. Reminder: things will only happen if you take a risk. Kind of sounds like a Kelly Clarkson song, ‘Breakaway,’ but it is very true, & like all clichés, they’re true.
When I was able to figure things out, kind of, I found a small, yes, very, very small, apartment in Edgewater. It was cheap, great, I was living alone, even better, & I’ve always wanted to live by the water –go figure! I did mention I’m from SoCal already. Edgewater is waaaayyy across from where I landed, & it was somewhere I wanted to be. I landed in the winter, & I knew once the weather was going to warm-up, that’s where I wanted to be. All I’ve ever heard here was, Chicago is the shit in the summer. Yes, speaking now, it is fun! I’ve also been asked countless times, why would you leave LA? & why would you come to Chicago in the dead of winter? My answers: LA isn’t everything, & if I can make it through winter, I can make it through anything [metaphorically speaking 😉. I did, after all, study English. BUT I’m not a scholar & tend to speak in slang, so don’t be so quick to judge].
The place where I got the apartment, at the time ‘The Windale,’ has since closed for renovations. Hopefully they make those apartments better! The Windale was cheap & month-to-month. It was ideal for someone just trying to make it happen. The problem was, it had a bad reputation, long ago. The Flats, not a type of gang or musicians’ group, took it over & “renovated” it, but like Edgewater, it had some stigma to it. Apparently, Edgewater used to NOT be the business. It’s good now, I’ve heard a lot, but I’ve experienced the better part of it. It’s “up & coming.”
The Windale was clean, but the Property Manager was a bitch. He was anal & weird & annoying. He watched the cameras all the time. Talk about no trust for your tenants, even after cavity searching them! That place was so institutionalized. I was like, um, excuse me, if I didn’t have rules like this when I lived with my parents, why in the fuck would I have these silly-ass rules while I’m paying to live here!?! I was like, hell no! This is not cracking. I was needy, not desperate. I get it, in a sense, it was for my safety, & yadayadayada, but come the fuck on! Guests weren’t allowed after 10 & couldn’t spend the night, on the weekends, yes, but they had to leave their ID at the front desk. You couldn’t make a peep after hours. You had to be in full-on attire while walking around. If you were bumming it, you were pushing it. If the Property Manager didn’t see you dump out your trash on a daily basis, from watching the cameras, you were reprimanded. Apartments were checked on a monthly basis. The mattresses were wrapped in plastic wrap. They were called “efficiency” studios. You were limited not only on much, but also the appliances you could have in your “room.” I would barely call it an apartment.
Then, they built a community kitchen. OMFGG!! Lucky us! A full kitchen & table setting & oven! OMG! I’m so blessed! & then you had to get rid of all your appliances in your room. At that time, I found a new apartment, so I was like, peace bitches, I’m out! & keeping my shit. It was like a halfway house! & everything was like, step out of line & you won’t be able to renew your lease! Your month-to-month lease! I was like, Jesus, Dionysus, Fiona Goode, get me out of here! For the longest time, I couldn’t open my room window. It was a clean apartment/ building, but that’s because even the dust couldn’t settle! I was only at the Windale for a few months. I couldn’t take it. I was like, no matter how much I lower them –on occasion– I still have standards & dignity. I’m not that desperate.
I walked around the neighbourhood, not to be a hood rat, & discovered the Grandeur. It’s one of the biggest buildings in Edgewater. I called for an apartment & made an appointment for a viewing. The minute I walked into the apartment, I fell in love with it. I’ve always lived in studios, & I was ready for a one-bedroom, but when I walked into this large studio, I dug it. It was large, in my price range, & located still in Edgewater but in the midst of everything: the train, the “beach” –hey, if there’s sand, a current, a lifeguard, & the word ‘beach’ in the title of the place, it’s a fucking beach! The library was down the street, speak nerdy to me, lots of eateries, & Aldi & Whole Foods, I was set! I loved the archways in the apartment, the light fixtures. I had a great view of the street. If I walked to the fire escape, I could see the lake, or “beach” rather 😉, & plus, one of the better parts, I had a built-in vanity in the closet. It was perfect. I applied & hoped to get it. Plus, there was a sick-ass move-in special, if your credit was good, & that was an offer I couldn’t pass up. One of the better parts of the Grandeur was the Property Manager there. She was loca! She told it like it was & I forged a good relationship with her. They say, birds of a feather flock together… Most people hated her, but I adore[d] her. I told the Windale to fuck off & go find someone else’s trash to dig through when I was approved for the Grandeur. The Grandeur Property Manager actually helped me move-in. Literally. The Grandeur is only a block away from whatever is left of the Windale, but she helped me. I was so thankful. I’ll admit, I’m limited on who I can turn to [in general & here]. I’m on my own. & it’s not that I’m toooo proud/ prideful of a person to turn to people, I’m just like, I know what I got myself into, I will find a way to work it out. Plus, people are funny, & not in a good way, but that’s a whole other story. But I’ll add, people are narcissistic, no comment, & people are flakely. I get it, we all have shit going on but My God… I’m just like, no one has time for that. That’s why there’s hired help!
Anyhow, I moved into the Grandeur & fell in love [with it –the apartment]. It was the first 18-month lease I’ve ever signed. It sounds like a lot, yeah, but when you think about it, a year goes by fast, & I had just come from moving from Los Angeles, moving from another continent, moving from another neighbourhood, moving from another apartment. I needed some type of structure & place to sit tight for a while until I really figured shit out. Plus, that was part of the move-in special. I was like, fine. This is all in MY best interest. Little by little I got more & more of my stuff from California, & more & more I was able to feel like I was ‘home.’ It was, & is, a great feeling. It’s funny because I did have some of my belongings, but it wasn’t until I got my refrigerator magnets did I really feel a change. It’s weird. I used to never collect magnets [of where I travelled to], but I started to & it’s just something cool. I can reflect & think, OH, that one time in… & then laugh to myself because it was probably some over.the.top scenario/ predicament I got myself into & survived! 😉
I customized my apartment to ‘me.’ All artists should be surrounded by their own artwork. Aside from my apartment in China, which I LOVED, the Grandeur was the biggest building I’ve lived in. I took advantage of everything –in the neighbourhood, because I knew one day, my same train of thought of being in California & China & everywhere now, it would all end. I didn’t & don’t want to have the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve train of thought & be like, shit! I should’ve done this when I was there & yadayadayada…
The cool thing about Chicago is that it has so many neighbourhoods, & every neighbourhood offers something different; they’re unique in their own way. The problem with Edgewater was that it offers nearly everything, so I never really had to leave it! But, I’m a vagabond, the 8th rather, & I’m big on ‘flaneur,’ so I pushed myself to get out & get acquainted with Chicago as a whole. The thing about Chicagoland is, once you think you’ve seen something, you still have more to discover. Things are always changing here. There’s lots of pop-ups & just various things going on. It has its pros & its cons.
My 18th month lease ended quick, like I knew it would. When it did, I still wasn’t fully prepared to move/ leave. Time does fly by when you’re having fun… & I was still in love with the apartment. But I’ll be honest, I don’t see myself living in Chicagoland for the rest of my days. There’s still a whole world to discover & conquer. I will be here for a bit, but again, I couldn’t, & can’t designate everything to just Edgewater while being here. I knew where I wanted to live next: closer into the city, but I wasn’t prepared. I renewed my lease, but for only 1 year this time, & even then, I knew a year would still go by fast, but at least I had something new & different to look forward to & still get the most of Edgewater while I could. Plus, I may not be in Chicagoland forever, but I’m not ready to leave now. It’s funny, because being 3 years into it, I could see myself going for 3 more, but my original goal was to make it 5 years overall. We shall still see.
I wanted to live in Wrigleyville. It kind of reminds me of Hollywood. Hollywood was my one true love I let go. I like Wrigleyville’s history & grunge, & the fact that most people only go to Wrigleyville & not necessarily call it ‘home.’ I also didn’t mind calling Lincoln Park my next home. It was good I was better founded/ grounded & had options & time to think.
I signed for one more year & like I knew, it came fast. I had one more year to take advantage of Edgewater, & boy did I… 😉 I broke it to my Property Manager I wasn’t going to renew. I mentioned it to her when I renewed the first time. She understood. Aside from what most people think, & hate of her, because she knows it, lol, I dig her. We had a good relationship. She went off on me a few times, but I was always respectful & patient with her. I’m big on communication & we’ve always communicated. Plus, she appreciated the fact that I was a ‘low-maintenance’ tenant that wasn’t always complaining or giving her a hard time. Plus, my on occasion ‘thank you’ gifts of wine & beer were helpful. She also loved the fact that I was/ am a clean person. She would praise me on that. She would tell me, some of these people live so disgustingly! Of course she was more vulgar than that, but you get the picture. She would be like, I love everything about your apartment! She referred to me as ‘China,’ because I lived in China & when it came to call for references on my previous housing, she was like, I’m not going to call China. It was funny. She also referred to me as ‘Beverly Hills,’ because when I called her, it said the city I was calling from was listed as ‘Beverly Hills.’ It’s the ‘310’ area code. So that was ‘our code’ & her name for me. I don’t think she’s ever called me by my government name. Not even when she’s yelled at me, or in her way, talk normal to me.
The Grandeur offered me a renewal for the second time, & they wanted to jack up the price even more & that’s when I was like, NO THANK YOU! It wasn’t the Property Manager, it was the actual company & she ultimately had no say in it, plus, I was ready to move this time around. The housing in Chicagoland can be pretty costly, which I kind of get, but for the most part it’s cheap. I come from California, originally Neptune –the planet, but I’m sorry, if that’s the case where I’m paying a boatload of money to live somewhere I’m not buying real estate in, then I might as well go back. The locals crack me up on 2 things. Well, more than that, but when I hear them complaining about housing, cost wise, & traffic, I’m like, you don’t know shit! Save it for someone who cares or naïve enough to believe you. The roads in Chicagoland are built horribly, yes, so I can understand that, but try being stuck in Westwood or Hollywood or Culver City [in general] or at the 101/ 405 conjunction on a daily basis during rush hour & then we can have a decent conversation.
Aside from my Hancock Park/ West Hollywood apartment, my Grandeur apartment was the longest apartment I’ve ever lived in. I got to looking, & got a lead on a cool apartment, just my type —another studio! & the irony was, it was going to be available at the time of when I was going to move. They say, everything happens for a reason, but I think a lot of it has to do with timing; timing is everything. Plus, my new apartment is exactly where I wanted it to be: Lake View East, which is also in Boystown & essentially Wrigleyville. It is 2019, we should be able to have our cake & eat it, too! 😉
So, I left Edgewater, in search of something new, something different; continue my voyage. What’s funny is my Grandeur Property Manager actually helped me move out of that apartment & into the new! LMAO! Of course, she criticized the new one once she saw it. She was just praising herself, & I give it to her. My new Lake View East apartment is different on many levels. The Grandeur Property Manager reminded me how everything comes full circle: she helped me move in & she helped me move out. Of course, I compensated her on the matter! & actually, she was nice enough to let me stay an extra day because the entire city was held hostage because of the -21 degree temperature that occurred. It was a lot warmer when I did move, 19 degrees. It literally felt warm/ hot. Them Midwestern winters… It’s funny because I wanted to get the MOST out of my Edgewater apartment before I left & go figure, the last days of Edgewater I was trapped in it! Literally. Like seriously! Be careful what you wish for… 😉
As for my new Property Manager, I don’t know… I’m just like, this guy… but we’ll see. He’s not so bad, but I can see his character[istics]. I’m aware of certain things & we’ll just see. I do LOVE where I’m at though. I obviously choose it for a reason. The apartment is more on the ‘vintage’ side, & the building, as a whole, is a lot smaller: 6 units versus 150. Going back to my roots! & I truly think I’m going to see a whole different side of Chicago. Edgewater is lively, but Lake View East/ Boystown/ Wrigleyville is more city, city & there’s definitely A LOT more going on. It’s going to be a whole other experience. I did only sign a one-year lease here, & I’m definitely open to renewing for another term, because I really like this place, but we’ll see how things pan out. Plus, a lot can happen in a year, no matter how fast it can go. I just can’t help but think, is the beginning of something new, or is this the beginning of the end for my stay here?