Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer in the City

Recently, I was kind of surprised when a couple of people asked me how I was adjusting to life in the city after living in the suburbs for so many years. I was surprised because there really wasn't any adjustment period for us - apparently we're city people. It just took awhile for us to figure that out.

It's not like we're strangers to the city. Marty and I both worked in London and in downtown Chicago, and for awhile he even commuted to New York from Northern New Jersey. We still kick ourselves for buying a house in Kent, in what was described as Greater London, instead of getting a place right in town back when we lived in England.

When we bought our house in Cincinnati, we liked the idea of a big back yard for the kids to play in, and we purposely left part of it wooded and wild. We enjoyed all the wildlife and we especially enjoyed our big deck, although we never really used it to entertain. In a relationship with one extrovert (mostly) and one introvert (mostly), we rarely did adult entertaining, although there were always lots of teenagers around.

We'd been thinking of downsizing at some future date when we were informed that we'd soon be grandparents. Neither of us could imagine living five hours away from our grandchild, so we instantly began the daunting project of clearing out and renovating our house. It was a big job and we have minimal talent as rehabbers. We can handle paint and wallpaper but our project included painting the entire house inside and out AND removing wallpaper that had gone out of style several years ago.

Marty and I have recently become hooked on Fixer Uppers, the Property Brothers and other shows of a similar nature. We feel pretty good about everything we did to fix our house up for sale, but if we'd been watching these shows back then, I think we would have done more drastic updates.

Anyway, we got it done. And by the time we were finished, we eagerly looked forward to moving into a 2-bedroom, 2-bath condo in the city where we wouldn't be tempted to save everything. That's the danger of a two-car garage and a full basement. There's room to store all the kids' kindergarten drawings, all the Christmas decorations, all of pretty much everything.

We gave away thousands and thousands of books, yet still managed to bring 65 cartons of books with us. And now I'm shopping for a bookcase again, after giving away several of them before we moved. At least I'm only looking for a small one this time.

The biggest adjustment, once we settled in, was realizing parking was always going to be an issue. Theoretically, parking is available with our building, but there are limited spaces and new ones only become available when someone moves or dies. Our number may come up for a parking space in 15 years or so. So we decided to sell our car.

This shocked some of our friends, but since there is a Zip-Car lot right across the street, a train station less than a mile away and bus stops to the city only two blocks away, it's not as if we were stranded.

We live in a building with front desk security, neighbors who've lived here for years, and friendly shop owners all around. We also live 5 minutes from our daughter and less than a mile from our son, daughter-in-law and our two beautiful granddaughters. We're two blocks from a nice sandy beach and about the same distance to the Museum of Science and Industry. There is ALWAYS someplace to go and something to do.

Yes, it was hard to give up my garden. But there is a courtyard garden in our building and a nice, private garden in the back with a decorative water fountain and places to sit and read. And, yes, I miss my friends in Cincinnati. We haven't been back for frequent visits, as we assumed we would, but hopefully we'll stay in touch and get back when we can. And sometimes our Cincinnati friends come up here.

And one HUGE plus is our wonderful view of Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan, which is awesome at all times of year and in all kinds of weather. We loved our yard in Cincinnati, but it's hard to top our view! (Even in this picture, which was taken in frigid November.)

If we feel like going out to eat, there are places nearby or, if we're feeling adventurous, we can go into the city and try someplace new.

Oh, and one other thing - we didn't have to shovel any walks or driveways last winter. Okay, I'll admit it. Winter in Chicago is not high on my list of favorite things. But the summers here are pretty glorious. It's a decent trade-off.

So - how are we adjusting? We're adjusting just fine, thank you. Kind of wishing we'd tried the city life years ago. :-)


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