After some belabored breaths, I had to close the kitchen cabinet for fear the two--three!--opened, half consumed, year old peanut butter jars would jump from their shelf to meet their due demise. In two weeks, it's moving time. We leave the apartment that stuffy hot and bitter cold and, occasionally, perfect breezes, built. We leave the apartment for a less expensive, more convenient option 10 miles closer to work. We leave the neighborhood gentrifying around us, the fusion Mexican restaurants and funky hair salons (my, what $45 can buy you), and swap one interchangeable chain coffee place on the corner for another on a Rogers Park corner.
We're not moving that far, but we're moving again. Make this my 7th move in as many years. We gain a view of the lake, a used bookstore, a free shuttle to work. I'll save time in the existential wasteland of commuting. At the same time, I'll loose the carpool time with my excellent carpool buddy. Or, I'll miss the absence of human sound on the nearly full 8am train car, watching the newspaper readers and head-drooping nappers as they default into quiet and calm.
We're leaving the back door that was kicked in, despite the deadbolt's mighty hold, on move-in day. Tony, blessed building manager Tony, had no choice but to do this, when faced with the prospect of trying each key on the telephone-pole-thick loop of unlabeled keys that went to locks that were locks no more. This is the apartment that came with a 2 x 4 to fortify the same back door. This is the apartment whose walls crumbled down to brick after a particularly relentless rainstorm one year ago this October. This was the glorious apartment T & I drove straight for, delirious from days on the road from Montana. Where the UHaul would stop, nobody knew. This is the apartment where staying immobile under a blanket in the midday cold of winter meant survival of the extremities at the expense of a productive writing day. The building's heat timer knew nobody would be home, because, why, this was the workday hour! Here, we pounded out cover letters off and on for eight months. Here I tended to write desperately voiced poetry about consumerism and then forced myself to stop deferring to tropes, even if the cold and the din of city brought these ideas by the fistful. The Carl Sandburg city "under the terrible burden of destiny, laughing as a young man laughs," bringing these images.
What we wished to consume was the tiny offering this city could afford us. Thanks for the free pesticide spray under our sinks once a month, landlord. Thanks for the sheet of ice out back, you, building manager, would break up with a sledge hammer every few days rather than fix the leaky roof drain. Thank you neighbor children enamored with our two cats, meeting us at the fence line to pet them through the links.
So I do it all again for one more year, marking time with the lease. This time, we have stairs with a bum step on the second story landing. We have a mantle. How very stately, this bathroom window painted shut. I can only hope we'll have the threat of rats and soggy walls just like last time. We'll have the breeze and light like last time.