Friday, April 27, 2012

The Best of Homes, The Worst of Homes

I closed up the old apartment today. I can't believe I lived there seven years. That's how much I hate to move.

I moved there for several reasons. First, as a theater actor it was getting embarrassing living in a downtown semi-luxury highrise. I could feel friends' discomfort when they came through the door.

Second, I longed to live in an actual neighborhood, where I didn't have to stand behind indecisive tourists any time I wanted a bagel or a cup of coffee.

And the third factor, and not an incidental one, was cost. Moving into the Lakeview place lowered my rent to a level that was less than my first rent payment in Chicago a decade before.

And I chose this particular apartment for several reasons. The first three were, of course, location, location and location. A drug store, 7-11 (nee White Hen), and dry cleaner right on the corner. Grocery just steps away (until it burned down just weeks after moving in). And hundreds -- literally, hundreds -- of restaurants, bars, cafes, stores and other things within a 5 minute walking radius.

It was also at the nexus of the Chicago public transportation universe. The 22 and 36 buses stopped at either end of my block and took me downtown in 20 minutes or so. And I was less than a 10 minute walk from the Lakeshore Drive express buses and the Red and Brown Line trains.

Other than location, the apartment was huge and had tons of light -- 7 big windows along the south wall. Built in the 1920s, it had a few charming architectural touches, like arched entrances and stained-glass windows.

On the other hand, it was kind of a pit. It hadn't been rehabbed since the '80s. The management company sucked. And noise, both from the street and upstairs was an issue.

But it was home. It was where I culminated the last few years of my theater career, including the production of my short plays. It's where I had the best commercial year of my career (so far). It's where I wrote my book. And a lot of personal stuff happened, good and bad.

I just realized it's the one place I've lived in longer than any other in Chicago. So I dragged out the farewell, cleaning it out bit by bit. Today I took the last two things I didn't sell -- the vacuum and the printer -- to the alley for pickup by some thrifty neighbor.

Then I left the keys on the counter, took a few pictures, and closed the door.

That's it. I'm working without a net now.

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