True confession: I put my condo up for sale.I didn’t tell you. But it’s not for sale anymore.
When I came back in November, Chicago felt like a soft, fluffy cloud that wasn’t made out of water vapor but a material that made it soft and fluffy. I floated down to my Chicago cloud and bounced once, twice, three times, and then fell asleep dreaming of Nelson Algren and Lou Malnati’s pizza. Chicago was perfect in every way and I knew in my bones I was right to come home. But my condo felt strange.
Oh, it was clean after my renters. We talked about this. The building management was the same. Most of my neighbors and doormen guys were intact. No, it was something else. Was the ceiling lower in my unit? Was the sink I picked for the bathroom just a total misfire? The windows weren’t big enough. The carpet needed to be redone, or maybe hardwood floors? All the cosmetic issues led to deeper ones. The truth is, I have experienced pure agony in this space of both the physical and relational kind. Hospital, heartbreak; it’s all the same when it’s at Level 10, it’s just a question of whether you need a surgeon or Tom Waits. Even the good stuff that happened here felt hard to meet with again, e.g., I dreamed up Quilty here and by the time I came back, the girl was gone.
And so I listed it a few months ago. I thought, “New space, new life, reset.” I mean, at this point, I sorta miss moving. (That is a joke.)
It’s an amazing thing to live in a condo that is for sale. The best part is that I’ve kept the place immaculate; it has needed to be ready for a showing at any moment so everything is put away and shiny. While Claus was here I had a cleaning buddy and I miss that; good heavenly days could that man clean a kitchen! My adorable, capable realtor has been chipper, energetic, and optimistic from the start, but has been more interest than there have been offers. There are reasons. There are no dogs allowed in my building and that’s a drawback; the monthly assessments are crazy high (vintage building, doormen, amenities, new elevators, etc.); the remodeled kitchen is stunning but narrow, stuff like that. Everyone who has come into my home freaks out and loves it: but coming over for a dinner party, a sewing group, or a nightcap does not involve mortgage insurance. Real estate is a big deal and I’ve curated this place for one specific person: me.
As the months went by and I wasn’t getting what I was after, two things happened: 1) I continued to settle in; and 2) I looked around. There’s a saying that getting over a breakup takes half as long as the relationship lasted. That sounds like some 8th-grade girl math to me but I am an 8th-grade girl in many ways, so I like it. Maybe it’s true for moving back into a home. I was gone eighteen months; maybe it’s taking nine to readjust. It’s been about eight so far.
It hit me the other day that I don’t need to leave this place, that I don’t even want to. I just need some paint. I need to get that painting framed, finally. I might just go find a new couch, although spending anything over $150 is unwise — hello, grad school! — and $150 won’t buy you a couch you actually want to sit on. But I can do a lot with very little; I did it in D.C. not so very long ago. (In fact, I did it twice.)
Condo, I’m sorry. I love you. What was I thinking? You’re my buddy. Let’s get messy this summer. Let’s paint and rearrange stuff and find vintage gems. Let’s date each other. I’ll buy flowers for you and you let me sleep over.