In which I’m all about the neighborhood. Sort of.
After a full month, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not that I’m stupid and missing something, it’s that there really is nowhere to put our remaining stuff. It has to go away somehow, or get packed into the basement storage closet, because there’s just no way to organize it. And I’m sick of having bags and boxes in my living room.
For people who don’t have much shit, we have too much shit. Hell, we have an entire drawerful of single-function kitchen gadgets. I mean, I’m sure I really did feel like I needed a garlic press, tongs, corkscrew, can opener, and thermometer at one time or another, but all that crap in one drawer and it’s basically a bunch of shit that wants to gnaw your arm off at the wrist.
I’ve also got a bit of buyer’s remorse, on the level of the apartment’s issues. The window and air conditioner leak when it rains. None of the outlets will hold a plug, so everything’s always falling out, which is frustrating as hell — I can’t even count how many times we’ve had to reset the digital alarm clock on the nightstand, or how often the internet’s gone out because the router plug (which we have taped to the wall) has slipped again.
Laundry list of first world problems. I know. I know. There’s more, of course.
The A/C basically only half-works. It comes on, but even if you have it on full blast and 100% cool, it cycles off every few minutes and just blows recycled air. (Even if you run it for hours, it never gets cold in the apartment, and merely cooking a meal makes the place unbearable, even with the door freshly weather sealed and two fans circulating the air). Half the lights in the kitchen overheat after ten minutes and turn off, so cooking and dishes and cleaning is done mostly in a sort of dim gloom. And it’s smaller. And there’s no cross breeze. Plus it costs more than the other place!
But the location is great. I love the location. Bars, stores, tacos, falafel, liquor stores, parks, lakes, libraries, nail salons. Pretty much anything you could ever want is within walking distance.
Well, except for a job. I still don’t have one of those, but I’m not out of money yet so I’m trying not to freak out about it. I basically don’t let myself go out and spend money more than once a week, and usually that’s either a trip to The Egg & I for breakfast, or down to CC Club for a drink. Just to get out while it’s not blizzard season and enjoy the fact that I can. But basically I’m afraid to spend because part of me is convinced I’ll never get another job again. Too many online friends out of work for two or more years, all those ladies at Home Depot with two or three jobs, and getting turned down by that little CU for both of their P/T teller gigs…
Oh, and this: I applied at the wrong grocery store. My Saturday interview last weekend wasn’t over here at the neighborhood store, it was 4 miles and a half hour bus ride away, on the other side of what Scott described as “pretty sketchy areas.” Never occurred to me that the Cub on Lake street would actually be on Lagoon, and that the one on 26th is actually called the Lake Street Cub. Because how would anyone who doesn’t work there know that.
Anyway, we moved here so I could make friends and have a life without needing to buy a car. To make friends, you go out. Frequently. And people get used to seeing you and start talking to you, and the next thing you know you’ve been off on adventures and you have a back story and now you’re friends. The last time I went through that process in a new town I was spending the last of my money like a dumb kid (which obviously worked out okay or I wouldn’t be here, but still isn’t very responsible) or I was on unemployment. It takes a lot of money, actually, to just hang out in a bar or a bookstore or a coffee shop enough to belong there. Well, “a lot” if you have no income, I mean.
So I now live somewhere cool! Yay! And I’m not doing shit. Boo. Right now I have time and no money; by the time I’m working again I’ll have money and no time. I’m basically screwed either way.
The old place was closer to Scott’s work, had a park next door, no traffic, everything worked, was bigger, was cheaper. He didn’t want to move; I did. I just didn’t like the neighborhood. Now I like the neighborhood but I’m too old and too conservative to spend money without a job and I basically just look at it out the window and feel like an asshole because I know any second now there will be three feet of snow out there and it’ll be twenty below and it won’t matter that there’s a corner store because I’ll just wait ’til the weekend so I can get a ride in the car to the grocery, like I did at the old place, and we’ll have moved for nothing.
Because that’s how the Midwest works. You’re frantic in the spring and fall to Go Out and Do Things, and the lakeshores and streets are absolutely stuffed with humanity. During summer there’s still a lot of bodies (because these people don’t seem to understand that HUMIDITY IS AWFUL) but less than spring and fall, I think, and in the winter you hardly ever see anybody outside, besides in parking lots, at all, because the weather will legit kill you. They don’t even plow most of the sidewalks, because people aren’t walking.
Lots of traffic at our intersection. Really a strong quiet/loud comparison with the old place. Cars here 24 hours a day, foot traffic pretty much all the time. Lots of activity and vibrancy. It’d probably feel amazing if I knew anybody, but mostly I still feel like a tourist. Or a tourist’s mother.
How did I get this old?
I’ve wanted to live somewhere just like this all my life, but now that I do it’s kinda loud, kinda dingy, kinda too late. I’m glad for it, though, the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted, but I’m not twenty anymore. I’m less stoked the bodega guy has five kinds of dal and more annoyed he doesn’t have turmeric, which convinces me that my brain and my attitudes are atrophying. (Because that’s clearly stupid. The corner store has fucking dal. And mango juice. And fava beans. It’s the coolest corner store on earth. He even carries tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, so you could finish out any meal. And I walked home from there a few days ago miffed that he didn’t have any fucking turmeric. I mean, the place is like thirty square feet, he can’t possibly carry everything!)
I’m getting old, and more likely to see what’s annoying than what’s awesome about a thing. I witness this happening, this calcification, this rigidity, and feel weird and embarrassed about my own mind. It’s still my nature to smile at people and talk to them in earnest, but at this city-level of immersion in humanity I tend to see most of them as extras rather than actual people — well, kids — with shit going on in their lives, because there are just too many of them. I think the girls’ accents are stupid and stilted, I hardly ever see anybody in truly cool and interesting clothes because I’ve pretty much already seen it all, and I don’t think the pedal pubs that come down our street after dark on Saturdays are the coolest shit ever, either, which I know I once would have: I think they’re loud and kinda dumb. Which doesn’t seem like me at all, but “me” has never been this close to 50 before.
So we bought some blackout curtains at Big Lots because the street lights on the corner are always shining into our bedroom window, and I have to tell you they’re freakin’ amazing. They cut so much brightness that the day we bought them and hung them up, we took a celebratory nap right in the middle of the day! And it was basically dark in the bedroom!
They also help with traffic sounds as well. Totally worth the investment.
See? I finally live in a cool apartment in a cool neighborhood in a major metropolitan area, and I turn out to be a person who talks about leaks and blackout curtains. Next it’ll be eye masks and cockroaches. My God.
On top of — or probably at the fundamental level of — my perceptions about the move is that it’s summer and I’ve become heat intolerant as fuck. Oh my God, it’s awful. No doubt it’s just a symptom of perimenopause, but the city is hot and this apartment has no awnings and no cross breeze and the A/C unit isn’t powerful enough to counteract an entire south-facing brick wall being beaten to death by the sun. And I am now a person who will get so hot that she’ll just lie there and cry, literally, and won’t even be able to realize that she needs to take a cool shower or something.
When I overheat I feel like I’m cogitating normally but I can’t think at all. I was overheating when we packed to go to Chicago last month, and I took really weird shit and omitted most of what I would normally bring to see Amma. And Sunday I got so hot I just started crying, burst into tears for no reason, but I didn’t realize I was overheated because I’d been lying in front of a fan with a spray bottle of water; I was doing stuff to cool down. I should have been fine. Heat’s never bothered me before. And yet I was miserable and helpless and stupid.
Scott finally took me for a drive with the GMC’s air vents all pointed at me on full blast. Eventually I could think again and we went home and by then the sun was no longer shining on the building and we rearranged the windows and fans and it was fine. But it’s weird to not really know your own body anymore, or your own head. I mean, I’m learning to accept the stiffness, the twinges, all the little changes that combine into the fact that I’m middle aged, but it’s frightening and weird to have a fucking crying jag just because it’s a hot day.
Today’s rather nice and much cooler, which I appreciate, but I’ve come down with whatever Scott had last week and I have a sore throat and a temperature and tons of body aches. I’ve managed to get some food down (even though swallowing hurt), and I hydrated dutifully, but I think it’s time to get off the internets and go back to bed for awhile.
Hopefully I’ll be up in time to feed my favorite person when he gets home from work, but the poor dear might have to fend for himself.