Back to Normal

July 1, 2004: our moving truck approaches Chicago, and that famous skyline stands in front of a vibrant  blue background on a gorgeous summer day. An omen, I think, of all the good things to come in our new home.

Goodbye, Hancock Center. So long, Sears Tower...

Goodbye, Hancock Center. So long, Sears Tower...

Five years later, to the day: Well, you can see for yourself what the weather looked like as we departed the Windy City, and I could say the gray weather matched my mood. But that would not be completely true. I think again, of course, of all that I’ll miss, but I know there is no going back. We are on our way to CT, and I will have to make the most of it.

And no more vegan treats from the neighborhood organic bakery

And no more vegan treats from the neighborhood organic bakery

Samantha gave an admirable account of some of the move snafus, so I won’t repeat them. Of course, she can’t capture the angst roiling inside me through most of the ordeal: Will the truck break down? That lurching motion doesn’t seem too healthy. Is the cat alive? She hasn’t made a sound in hours. How is everything holding up back there? Anything damaged? Anything we forgot, even though I know we both went through the empty apartment several times before leaving. And what will we find in this new house, which I have seen for all of 15 minutes?

Hard to believe all that was just ten days ago. We are now remarkably unpacked, organized, and feeling at home in the new place, though the old owners were pigs and things  will — especially in the kitchen — never be as clean as I would like. (Yes, yes, I am anal about those things, I know.) Not that the house was trashed in a foreclosure-sale manner; I suppose they met the spirit of the law when it comes to “broom clean.” But as I scrubbed the range — “what is that shit that won’t come off?” — and found increasing evidence of boil-overs and spills seemingly ignored, I had this thought: Would you take a dump and leave it there, expecting the next person who comes along to flush for you? Probably not. So why do you expect the people buying your home to clean the remnants of old food and such in your kitchen?

You cannot make this stuff up...

You cannot make this stuff up...

And as we are quickly learning, either our sellers or the people before them did most things on the cheap and/or with jerry-rigged methods. Hell, why hire an electrician to put a light inside the garage when you can run an extension cord from your house and hang a lamp upside down from the ceiling? I’m sure more pleasant surprises await, more opportunities for us to contribute to the economic health of the home-repair sector in the Greater New Haven  area.

Did I mention the lovely view across the street? At least nobody makes any noise there...

Did I mention the lovely view across the street? At least nobody makes any noise there...

And what about the town, or our little corner of it? Well, there are some good things: I can easily walk to the library (which isn’t very good, unfortunately), the grocery store, the bank, several decent restaurants. Within a short drive is our beloved Trader Joe’s and more good restaurants. But West Haven  is not Glastonbury, the North Side of Chicago, or other upper-middle class neighborhoods I’ve called home. It is much more like some of the places I’ve lived in Hartford, but with a vibe I can’t pin down yet.  I suppose you could call it blue collar or working class, if you were being kind. If you weren’t, you’d use some of the descriptors I’ve thrown out to Samantha, ones I won’t repeat here. But if you like tattoos, motorcycles, and two-family homes not quite infused with what the realtors call pride of ownership, this is the place for you.

To be fair, our street and many others around it have lots of well-kept homes, and the people we’ve actually met have been more than kind. But there is a cultural difference between our old Roscoe Village scene and the new town that will take some getting used to. Am I an intellectual snob who hates dilapidation, and being stared at while running errands on my bike, with a look that says, “Why is that middle-aged white man riding a bike?”  Guilty as charged. But I know (I hope…) I can live with the shortcomings because of the pluses: a great house that was a good deal, proximity to New Haven, proximity to the water (as with Lake Michigan in Chicago, I might not spend much time by it but I like knowing it’s there). And I will live with it if Samantha is happy with everything, because that was the whole point of moving: End her misery after five years of urban living that she disliked from the start.

I’ve found one unexpected plus. As much as I loved/love Chicago, I know what Samantha means when she says coming back to CT feels like home. The trees, the hills, even the highways — they’re all familiar, and in a good way. So maybe the Crisis of the move is not so bad. Maybe the Crisis in general is over. Why, I think I might be…normal!

Brother, can you spare a lawn mower?

Brother, can you spare a lawn mower?

Uh, no.  False alarm. I know the adjustments will bring new anxieties. And the old ones still have residence within, particularly about playwriting. And even blogging — my god, it takes 2 weeks to write one? Yes, home ownership, a poorly run town government, occasional pining for all I’ve left behind – plenty of fodder to fuel the Crisis. Ah, it’s nice to know that some things never change.


~ by mburgan on July 12, 2009.

4 Responses to “Back to Normal”

  1. I was wondering when we’d hear your side of the story…and btw..if you expect us to hit the libraries for you, please have them hold the book(s). and what is wrong with an upside down lamp in the garage..:)

  2. I’m glad to hear you’re not miserable. Rick said you were doing well.

  3. Yeah, could be much worse. You’ll have to come down to see the place.

  4. Y’all will be glad to know I borrowed a lawnmower and took care of the foot-high grass. It’s beeyootiful now. Stop by and we’ll have a picnic on the lawn!

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