I hadn’t cried like that in a long time but I just couldn’t help myself. Despite my feeble protests, Craig took down our toy collection from our living room wall and suddenly it all got very real. I threw out about 6 other items he could have packed up at that very moment instead, DVDs buried in our entertainment center, or the books hidden behind the speakers, but he refused. Down came our Simpsons & Family Guy figurines, my collection of Wonder Woman action figures, the cast of Pulp Fiction, and my General Lee & Boss Hog Hot Wheels. After all, this stuff was all coming down soon anyway, we had to get the whole condo painted, so why not right now when he had the perfect box in front of him. It’s all part of step one; pack away and store whatever we won’t need for the next 4 months. Clearly it’ll be easier to move all our belongings to the center of each room if we have way less belongings to move. After 117 catalogued combination of boxes, bags, and picture frames, the painting began. We haven’t had our home in good living condition in about a month, and now that most of the work is done it’s time to start the process of getting it on the market.
I’m having a lot of trouble with all of this. We’ve lived in this condo for 13 years and it was love at first sight. When I walked into the model unit with my friend Christina, the contractors were still finishing up this gut rehab, I knew our search was over. And when I brought Craig to see it too he was so pissed at me, because he could tell from the look in my eyes our search was over and showing him the unit was only a matter of process. Immediately I knew I wanted to have babies in here, I wanted to watch the world from the huge windows in our family room, I wanted to throw elaborate dinner parties, holiday parties, lasting into the wee hours of the night, I wanted to make memories with friends, have guests for Shabbat dinners, warm ourselves in front of our fireplace during cold Chicago winters, and take ridiculously long baths in the jacuzzi tub. And I did all of that and more.
We bought this place right before we got married, moved in a month before our wedding, and had all of the glorious idealistic plans for our life together that everybody had when they were in their mid-20′s and completely in love. Our story would be glorious. Our love was the purist. And we’d already survived some pretty big losses and blows before we walked down that aisle so we knew “happily ever after” really meant, “how you handle that shit that’s going to come your way as a team.” But brother, we were so clueless. And now every inch of this home we’ve built together has a pocket of hurt, a well of tears, a wall of scrapes, that we can still see even through this fresh coat of paint.
When talking with my dad about parting with the longest home I’ve ever lived in he pointed out the energy trapped here from each chapter in our story and how it wasn’t energy to propel us or move us forward, but instead we were trapped inside of it too, stuck in a cycle of frustration and disappointment, draining us of our momentum to change ourselves for a better quality of life. There are ghosts here and I can see them everywhere.
But now is the time.
Thankfully this winter wasn’t too bad, but carrying Aleck down those icy metal stairs feels like taking our lives into my unstable ankles with each step. And if we want to carry through on our dreams of the future we need to make room for them, have space for those dreams to grow and develop. I once overheard a fertility counselor talking during a networking event and she spoke about how she talks to her clients about every aspect in their life when they are trying to get pregnant; connecting the dots for them on how their physical space, their employment status, their overall environment can have a huge effect on their ability to conceive. That’s when I realized what we had to do. We’d been mulling this over for a while now anyway. Would CPS be a good fit for us? Are any of the schools really ADA compliant here? How hard would we have to fight to get Aleck the services he needs to be successful in his future education? This year it feels like all we’ve been doing is fighting and I feel so tired all the time. What would it be like to walk into a public school that just might hand us all the resources we need? It might not be perfect but we owe it to ourselves to give it a try.
With Aleck entering Kindergarten next year it’s time. I already feel bad enough that he will have to start all over again, make new friends, be one of the kids who’s a little different walking down the hallway. This year has been such a struggle for him and he’s finally happy at school, he’s happy with his friends, he’s getting invited to playdates left and right. There are even pictures of him with his arms around the other kids at school looking like just one of the boys and we are thrilled. But it’s not sustainable, not the school situation or our home, and it’s time to find a place where we can be longterm. I never thought I would write or utter these words, but it’s time to head to the suburbs.
We aren’t going too far, so don’t sweat it our city friends. Most of you live on the Northwest side anyway and we are currently looking at Skokie, Lincolnwood…we shall see. The plan right now is to rent a place until we figure out which schools and neighborhoods will meet our needs the best. ”I’m dreaming of a ranch in Skokie…” (sung White Christmas style). Thought we’d be in the city forever. Find a cool bungalow on that Northwest side, or buy a two flat and convert it into a single family home, or a colonial on Bernard street in Logan Square, but our biggest dream was to convert an old church into a home and studio.
But Aleck can’t do stairs, and Aleck needs services, and taking the CTA with Aleck is punishing on these 40-something body parts. Having kids changes everything, having special needs kids takes the everything and flips it another 180 on it’s head. I’m emotional about putting my city self on a shelf, I’m really going to miss telling people that I live in what is right now the coolest neighborhood in the country. However, there are very few times in life that you can make a decision to make your life and your family’s life easier. Making this move, selling this condo, will heal us on a financial level, on an educational level, and on an emotional level as well. Essentially it’ll put as at ground zero, at sea level, with nowhere to go but up (oh please dear lord, god, let us just go up).
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