Sunday, July 07, 2013

New Home, July 2013

One-bedroom apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL, USA
My new apartment has the light I've been craving ever since I moved out of my spinster pad in 2007. The apartment I shared as a wife was perfect in many ways, but it didn't have a lot of natural light. This is what I want in a living space. My new home is spacious and sparkling with a startling amount of closet space for just US$895 a month. At least that's a bargain in the part of Chicago where I live; I guess it's all relative. Maybe part of the (relatively) low rent is that the general street parking in the area is kind of horrendous, there's no automatic dishwasher or automatic garbage disposal function in the kitchen sink, and the bathroom clearly hasn't been re-done in several decades.

But that's all fine because it's bright, airy, beautiful and every room has windows that face open space and there's plenty of cross breeze action. Apartments with true cross breezes are rare in Chicago because even if the architecture allows for windows in every room, they don't always line up so the breezes can go right through. These windows do. I don't have a car so I don't care about parking, and not having automatic everything is a total rich person's problem (speaking in global terms) and I'm not complaining.

It occurs to me that I moved to Chicago exactly 20 years ago this month. On my 27th birthday -- 24 July 1993 -- I drove into Chicago from Ithaca, NY (where I'd gone to grad school) with my friend, Robert Cowie (it was his car actually). He helped me start my new adventure in the heartland, generously driving me out, helping unload my stuff and then heading back to the east coast (Christ, why did you do that, Robert? Thanks again!). I remember the thrill of waking up that first morning in my new city, excited to have all unknown experiences ahead of me. I kind of felt that way this morning, too, waking up in my gleaming, lofty divorcee pad.

I've never lived on the third floor of any building in my life, so when I gaze out at the clouds and rooftops, I feel like I'm in a tree house. Even my bathroom window gets a lovely, leafy view. The only other time I had a bathroom with a view was when I vacationed on Monhegan Island, Maine USA. As inconvenient as walking up to the third floor felt in today's 88 F heat (31 C), I look forward to the increased level of exercise I'll get just coming home.

It feels kind of dream-like. Is this really my own space that I can decorate and arrange however I like? Do I really never have to put up with dog hair again? Can I really loll in bed all Sunday morning without an insistent, leathery snout urging me to get up? (The dog's, not the man's.)

My husband is divorcing me and I feel fine. I lived alone until I was 40, so stepping back into the single life at 46 feels very natural. But I admit I'm still spending time back at the other apartment (now my husband's apartment) taking care of the dog, so I haven't really felt the full impact of separation yet. As I blog this, I'm sitting at the old place with Ozzie the pit bull curled up beside me. Two days a week I'll come back to dog-sit and Sunday will be one of them. No, it's not because I can't bring myself to leave the dog behind. I'm charging the same rate as our professional dog walker ($15 a walk), plus I think it's good for me and Ozzie to stay in each other's lives. I don't want to just disappear on him, plus I understand that petting him is good for my health.

Uh oh. As I write this it's hitting me that I like being here with the dog, with my husband on the way home from work. As beautiful as my new apartment is, I suddenly feel sad that we aren't a family anymore. My bedroom here is empty, my cookies and tea and honey are no longer in the pantry, and if I fell asleep and woke up here in the morning, I wouldn't have a change of clothes or a toothbrush.

When Bob gets home tonight, it'll be time for me to leave.

One thing my husband taught me during our marriage was this: there's good and bad in everything. I used to think he was wrong because there are so many things in life that just irredeemably suck, but I've come to see the truth in his statement. There is good and bad in everything, it's just not always balanced 50/50. At the moment, this divorce feels more bad than good, but it'll eventually shift the other way. There's good and bad in everything, and the proportions of goodness and badness rarely stay the same.


Cat said...

Reg: This is one of the best blog posts you've put out in months. It was moving, lyrical, had an interesting construction, and well illustrated. I think you're getting your groove back!

Regina Rodriguez-Martin said...

Thanks! I guess I'd better get my groove back before I tackle that book manuscript again.

Selana said...

Regina, you are going through a re birth. Yes there will be some pain but believe me, it's soooooo worth it.

You are choosing your happiness over form and convention. That is true liberation and true self love.

I love your new space. It's filled with light and for a beautiful today!