(Update 03.19.2009: Now that the cat’s out of the bag, I can finally un-PWP this post!)

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… 525,600 journeys to plan
525,600 minutes
How can you measure
The life of a woman or man?”

 – “Seasons of Love”

 

Well, it’s official. I am back to apartment living … and rent. (Ah-hah! Now you get the reference to the song lyrics from the Broadway musical, “Rent.”)

Along with our trip to Cedar Rapids, IA this weekend, we made another trip to Chicago. Well, for the day anyway. Because we would have had to drive by it on our way back home on Sunday anwyay.

Prior to us leaving, I set up an appointment with a free apartment finder service in the city. And that was because the previous weekend, Hubby & I tried to look for apartments in areas we thought we might like. Well, between the fact that we didn’t have any set plans … nor did we have anything else other than a street maps of the city and me as the navigator … I guess you can say I freaked out on Hubby there for a bit.

Yes, I finally had my first major freak-out. Pretty darn good, considering it had been more than a month since realizing that I might actually moving out of state. Seriously. I think the whole reality of it finally sank in. So … one freak-out thus far ain’t so bad.

Anyway … I must say, Hubby & I were a little anxious to look at places. Didn’t know what to expect, but hoped for the best. We met our agent, M shortly after arriving in the city in time for our appointment. Right away, Hubby & I felt comfortable with her.

M looked up apartments in the areas we were interested in with all the anemities we were interested in having (newish or refurbished kitchen/bath, two bedrooms, at least one bath, takes cats and a dog, and close to the El) within the price range we were willing to pay monthly. Hubby & I knew it would be hard to find everything we wanted within that range, so we were cautiously optimistic.

After finding a handful of apartments that fit our search, we were off to look at the places. One was really nice, but small. Another was a nice size, but not in a location we liked. A third had a great layout and was situated above an Italian (!!) restaurant, but the bedrooms were too small. And a fourth also had a great layout and was a tad larger, but was too old for our liking.

By this time, Hubby and I were starting to feel like we were being way too picky. Realistically, we knew not to settle for just anything, but the pressure of wanting to find something so we could move in prior to me starting the new job had us worried. That, and we didn’t want to waste any more of M’s time, as by this time it was about 6 pm and we still had to drive back to Michigan that night. (Not all the way home, but to Lansing. So that hubby could just go into work the next day without having to make another 1.5 hr drive back west from our home the next morning. Lucky me was off that day …)

Amongst all the different areas we drove through, we were pleasantly suprised that we genuinely liked M. She was very professional. And knowledgeable about the various areas we were interested in. In addition, we found out we were similar in age and enjoyed much of the same types of music from back in the 80’s. And let’s not even get into the same types of cuisine we all liked as well!

At one time, I asked about the diversity of a certain neighborhood we really wanted to live in, strictly because one of Hubby’s (very conservative) co-workers asked about it. Not that it mattered to us, I told M. In fact, for us diversity (whether it be cultural or lifestyle) was important to us because of who WE were as people. And what we liked to be surrounded by on a daily basis. And how moving here was going to be the beginning of embracing the open attitude we’ve always had in our lives. Which, given where we currently live and the environment we’re surrounded by, has been readily shoved aside. (More on this later.)

As we were heading to the next apartment on the list, M slowed her car down and said that she was going to go against all the rules for her job and not to say anything to her employer about what she was going to do.

It was at that moment that M told us about another apartment, currently not listed with their agency, that she thought we would like. And the reason she knew about this place was because she used to live in this apartment, but because of financial issues had to move to a smaller place. She said the landlord was awesome and would be willing to negotiate with us as far as rent. She also added that she would honestly be losing out on a commission if we decided to rent this place, but she truly liked us and thought that the two of us would fit in nicely with the rest of the tenants and landlord as well as the rest of the neighborhood. And, oh by the way … would we be interested in seeing it?

Well, h*ll … after that buildup, how could we say no?!

So off to the apartment we went. And all I can say is Oh. My. G*d. The place was just about perfect for what we were looking for. Yeah, there were a couple of odd things, but after what he had seen earlier … we couldn’t have asked for anything better! And the landlord? Incredibly nice and clearly down-to-earth. He and his wife (and 3 kids) live directly across the street and, I’ve got to say … Hubby and I both felt just good vibes surrounding him.

Seeing that Hubby & I haven’t rented in, oh … let’s just say more than a decade … we were both trying not to show too much excitement over the place. But after exchanging contact info, meeting another one of the neighbors in the next building, and finally climbing back into M’s car … neither of us could hold back our enthusiasm for the place. In fact, right away Hubby & I turned to M to ask her what our next steps should be. So … after some really sound advice (about deposit and lease length, etc), M encouraged us to call Mr. LL (aka “landlord”) and tell us that we were very interested in the place.

After finishing the phone call with Mr. LL, Hubby & I turned to M and told her that seeing that she wouldn’t get any comission for what she just did … she would be either our first guest in our new place or we’d be taking her on a night out. And … Oh. My. G*d. She was now officially our first “new” friend here in Chicago!

Afterwards as Hubby and I were driving back to Mr. LL’s place to drop of the security deposit … Hubby turned to me and asked if I had any inclination that M was gay. Because he was as sure as H*ll that she would have found the diversity question I asked earlier offensive … if I didn’t have any idea about her personal life. I had an inkling that she was, which is what I told Hubby. (Which we were later able to confirm by conversations with both Mr. LL and M, herself.)

But … WOW! What if I never asked that diversity question? What if I didn’t have any inkling about M’s lifestyle? What if we never got the opportunity to discuss how we consciously acknowledged that growing up Asian-American in a very sheltered white-collar/blue-collar environment affected how WE openly approach those who people may have grown up just as “different” as we did?

Well, I suppose that would mean that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see such an awesome apartment. Nor would we have been introduced to Mr. LL, who appears just as excited as we are to move in to this little community. And let me tell you, Hubby is just as excited that I’ll be surrounded by a good landlord … not to mention a couple downstairs with two gentle pitbulls and another male couple upstairs … who would look out after me during the first two months I’d be there without him.

Wow. I still can’t believe that yet another door has opened for me. I am so incredibly grateful for how things seem to be working in our favor with this change!

And as it appears I’ll be slowly be moving within the next two weeks … I suppose I should go. Because now I have, oh … about 525,600 things to do.

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Holy Crap. Wanna talk about MAJOR stars shining down on Hubby & me right now? I just found out that a good friend of mine from high school … one who we just recently started to reconnect with through Face.book … currently lives about a block and a half away from where we’ll be living!