City Mouse or Country Mouse

With all of these major life events, I threw in the towel and went to see my colleague/mentor/therapist/friend. This is a different sort of relationship that is held on the shelf for those moments when I need a full service life advisor. I have this same relationship with a younger colleague where I am the "go to" person; I feel very very lucky to have my go to guy who has been in practice for a decade longer than me, lived a decade longer than me, he has married, divorced and remarried, moved, raised children and lost parents. He’s smart and has a good heart. I give weight to what he thinks.

I was talking to him about my mother’s memorial service and he made this observation: I have felt at times that my mother’s calling was not as a mother, at least to small insistent children with sticky hands. That was a disappointment that I have had to come to terms with. But how many people make the opportunity to almost reinvent themselves and come to their full potential so very late in life when many of their peers are off playing Bingo?

That’s not to say she didn’t make her contribution throughout her life- she taught me and Gilda Radnor Shakespeare and for all I know, she advised Jean Harris on the wisdom of emotional mayhem, having been through a bit of that herself. After teaching at that particular private girl’s school she went on to teach young engineers how to write a coherent sentence. But at my mother’s memorial service there were environmentalists, college professors, activists and a whole community of people who only came to know her as she hit her stride in her sixties and seventies, fighting to keep large tracts of spectacular land and Lake Superior shoreline pristine and undeveloped.

And here I find myself, at midlife and a turn in the road.

Last week, that online mentor/colleague and renaissance blogger, ever in the third person, over at Sigmund, Carl and Alfred, wrote a wise post with a nod to my recent loss. It’s well wrought and thoughtful and I highly recommend you go there and read. He writes, "No matter how we live our lives, the race inevitably comes to an end
and we will cross the finish line. It is in how we cross the finish
line, that we are remembered."  My mother will be well remembered by her friends and the land that lives beyond our years. And I thank you, S,C and A, for your kindness.

Okay- back to my list about me started yesterday. (I like this little framework for blogging right now):

17. I think it’s time for a new blog design. Bright. Bold. Colorful.

18. The subject of today’s post. His career opportunity knocks at the corner of Wacker and Michigan Ave., heart of Chicago, and so we are faced with decisions about where to live, where to live.

Fishing Guy is too easy about this: "Where ever you will be happy."  At first I thought maybe a home in the near suburbs, with a yard and garden but after a field trip of MLS listings with dear friend Judy, the city didn’t look so bad. By the end of the day we had seen so many houses that it was all a big blur. I couldn’t remember which bathroom went with which kitchen. Was that the one with the dog kennel in the dining room or the one with the purple walls? Not to be snarky but there are a lot of people out there with beaucoup negative fung whatever, matched only by the number of people whose homes pose public health hazards. I mean, if your house is being shown to sell, how much curb appeal is there in a sink full of dirty dishes and bathtubs with standing water? People, people.

The last house of the day was in the city and the only "townhome" on the list. More than anything, Judy and I wanted to go get the free happy hour appetizers at the hotel. The realtor persisted and said I should really take at least one look at how many people in Chicago live. I walked in and said "we’ll take it" and made an offer. The next day Judy and I came back to Ann Arbor.

For the past two weeks I’ve been second guessing myself and assuming that I was just overcome with fatigue and anxiety. I couldn’t even remember where the washer and dryer were situated. Then this past weekend Rich and I went back for the inspection on the home that I bought with one brief glance. It’s actually very nice.

Here was part of my thinking: If we live in the suburbs FG will commute into the city and I will stay home. There are only so many times you can go look at Frank LLoyd Wright’s studio. If we live in what is reputed to be one of the finest cities with neighborhoods and museums and the Big Lake and the original Ferris wheel, then I will get out and get busy. Here is a list of nearby destinations:

Within a one block radius there is

a vet
a yoga and pilates studio
a gynecologist
a fine university
a tapas bar, a trattoria, and 18 more restaurants
a hospital
2 bookstores
a fine linens store
and a park dedicated to Frank Baum, complete with the Emerald City Gardens, basketball hoops and Dorothy’s playground. From the park you see Sears Tower.

Also close at hand is a pet boutique named Barker and Meowsky, a Whole Paycheck, a Borders and a Tower Record. The train is two blocks away and then 3 stops to the Loop. Five blocks away is the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Conservatory and Lake Michigan.

This could be good, yes? And BCMA will come for the annual birthday party meeting in October. It’s not so bad. It’s just so different.

14 responses to “City Mouse or Country Mouse

  1. And I bet I might pop in, too, as I pass through Chicago on my way to a certain college in the Midwest. It sounds lovely, Vicki. Change is exciting! And scary and hard. But, exciting!

  2. “We’ll take it”? Wow, that hotel must serve some mighty kickass appetizers for the process to have sped up so much. This could be a real boon for the real estate profession. Since you’re in on the secret, you could change professions and make a killing in the market.

  3. A yoga studio within a block is surely a sign from above! My daughter worked in the Wacker Building before her move to NYC; I love the clock on the corner.

    I like the way you think, Vicki! Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.~Helen Keller

  4. Well, I will grant that that is a Ferris wheel, all right. But the original was torn down in 1904, so you only got a secondary.

    “…beaucoup negative fung…” I wish I could write like that.

    So now what are you going to do? I am all muddled. I hope you are not. How many places have you bought? Do you have pix of the new place? Questions, questions….

  5. Sometimes a change is better than a rest. And what better place to change to than a place with 18 restaurants within a one block radius?!

    (Sorry… the tummy, it rules my life, lately.)

  6. Wow. This will be a big change, V. But exciting, too.

    When I lived in Boston, I grew potted tomatoes on my 10 x 10 roof and had enough to make and freeze sauce to get us through the long, cold winter.

  7. I am to the stage of my life where I would love to live in the city again. However, my husband is not a city person; he would prefer more solitude. So, we live in a development in suburbia, which neither one of us likes much. We did it for our little kids, who are now all grown up. (almost)

  8. Mr. kenju’s neice is an esthetician at an Aveda Salon there. I will have to find out which one and see if I can get you a discount…LOL

  9. niece,of course.

  10. P.S. Sounds as if Hoss is gearing up for another visit, Vicki. You’d better have a guest room….LOL

  11. Well, I think you will be able to adapt to where ever you land. And it would be a nice change not to have a lot of the hassles of a lawn on those days you’d rather do something else. I have never lived in a big, big city either, always suburbs. But, I will get a little of the experience when we live in the apartment in Brooklyn for a couple of weeks.

    What ARE you going to do with the aviary? Have you already put your house on the market? And are you really going to sell Wits End?

    I was a preacher’s kid. Moved all my life. The fifteen years in Mississippi was the longest span I ever stayed put. Moving was a hassle and that first move from Roanoke to Gary, Indiana was a heartbreaker. But after that it became easier and more of an adventure.

    I drove my folks to see brother Stephen in Chicago a year ago when he performed with the Chicago Symphony. One thing I learned from him about Chicago; people double park downtown as a rule, not an exception. If you drive there you have to be a bit more aggressive as they make lanes where there are none. Also, winter may be colder there than in Ann Arbor. The 10 degree temperature is no match for the wind down through the streets between those tall buildings; wind chills brutal. But this only gives another reason to snuggle with your DH. There is a fireplace in the townhouse isn’t there?

  12. I’m officially a little jealous. I took one look at the ivy covered Chicago house and thought, that is IT, that is my vacaton home. Living out in the country, my idea of relaxing is being somewhere with disposable income and shopping, museums, restaurants and busyness. Maybe even nightlife other than the music of the whippoorwill. I had a great, albeit short, experience in Chicago. Congratulations.

    I had a boyfriend once who likened life’s decisions to rock-hopping a stream in the mountains…just pick a rock and leap. So “we’ll take it” sounded just right to me.

    And “beaucoup negative fung” — that is priceless.

  13. Ah, my family is from Chicago, and I have fond memories of strolling the city with my grandmother when I was a child. She bought my sister and me chocolate croissants and we saw the river. As an adult, I went back for yet another visit and wandered the city, visiting the Art Institute, Marshall Field’s (I’ll never call it Macy’s!) and many other landmarks before returning to my grandmother’s condo each evening by train. Chicago is a fine, fine city, and I think you’ll like it as you get into it. Best of luck on your upcoming adventure! (And post pics of the new house, perhaps?) 🙂

  14. I think you’re becoming a city girl already. And you know what, I think I’m even a little jealous.

    Wonderful post, Vicki.

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