Saturday, June 1, 2013

Migration Matters of a Lofty Nature

Where we love is home - 
Home that our feet may leave,
But not our hearts.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Some think Boomer and I were a pair of land turtles in how our relationship evolved over the years.  Some even dismiss the 12 years preceding our 2009 marriage, that they somehow don't count in significance as to who we were to each other, for each other - - or our deep love for one another.   Bully.  There are no rules.  We made our own.  Our timeline always worked for us.  We were never in a rush.  Always clear in our objectives (read  Babies). In the winter of 2003, after living 36 miles apart for 6 years, situations and circumstances were now shifting (read He Said), making our next phase possible to begin...

Boomer gave his signature "It is time," in early-December (read Three).  Time for us to explore our migration - - into the same town - - we are turtles after all, and weren't going to move in together immediately.  Let's just live closer together first - - so SMO and Boomer.  The initial migration plan that would have him selling his home in Algonquin, IL and move to Evanston, IL, where I was (read Band-Aid).  Why did Boomer move and not me?  Because as Boomer liked to say, "It would have taken a crowbar to get you out of Evanston."  He liked Evanston alot too, don't let his kidding remark fool you.  We shopped together for the real estate, because part of the migration plan was that whatever was purchased would also be our migration home - - when it was time of course.  

Our list was pretty well thought out - - must-haves vs. nice-to-haves - - and a condo.  Boomer was done with snow blowing, mowing and the other maintenance chores associated with owning a house. The absolutes were pretty simple:  generous room sizes, healthy ceiling height, dedicated parking, central air, in-unit laundry. Nice-to-haves:  everything else.  Over the course of about 4 weeks, we saw nearly 20 properties, getting close, but not quite, to which our very patient agent regularly said, "You're very consistent with what you're looking for, what you like and don't like."

Then the first Sunday following New Year's, 2004, our agent, Rose, got us in for an early viewing of a unit that was having it's first open house within the hour.  We walked in the door and we knew - - it was it.  A three-bedroom, 2 bath, top floor, corner unit, loft.  It was awesome.  We spent 20 minutes just walking around, looking it over, the most time in any other place we'd seen.  Rose knew she struck gold with us on this one, "There's an open house starting in an hour, this is an in-demand building," she said, "with no other unit like this one in it, so...," she subtly lays out for us the need to make an initial offer, if we're serious to help give the unit a soft "hold".  Goosebumps for us both.  It's also just 4 blocks from my condo.  We walk outside and see people already congregating for the open house.  Part of our original migration plan, was that when it was time for me to move in, we'd keep my unit as an investment property and rent it.  The Loft, however, was leaning on the high-end of the purchasing budget by just selling Boomer's house.  Knowing this, I gave Boomer the deal making, game changing comment he never forgot,  "Honey, this is the place.  I know it is.  You know it is.  And if it means that I'd have to sell my place too to make it happen for us - - OK.  I'm in."   Within the week, we were under contract, scheduled closing in June - - perfect since Boomer hadn't listed his house yet.

My comment to him, from that day forward was on Boomer's short list of his personal milestone moments in our relationship.  He spoke of it often; how much it meant to him, the demonstration of trust and commitment affirming that I, like he, was "all in" when it came to we.  His second favorite memory of the experience, that he also loved to speak of often (privately, only to me naturally), was our celebratory sex on the kitchen counter the day he closed on The Loft.

Boomer & SMO's Loft, 2011
The Truck Has Left The Loft, 2011
I moved into The Loft in 2007, 6 months after we got engaged (read Shannon).  We sold my condo in 2008, and used proceeds to redo the floors, and paint, after the kitchen was remodeled.   The Loft became our home.  While there were ample adjustments and challenges along the way, it was our home  - - together - - and we loved it.   We hosted holidays, spontaneous get togethers, gave my dad a surprse birthday party, even our wedding reception was held at The Loft.  It was a space we cultivated for gathering, in friendship and in love.  I earned my Ph.D in vehicle parking at The Loft, mastering navigating the tight corner spot we had in the basement garage without ever a scratch - - something Boomer himself could never brag on.

I suppose it was no surprise The Loft sold in a mere record 23 days when we listed it in 2011, upon deciding to migrate to SW Florida.  The Loft was groovy baby.  It was also no shock to me how highly trepidatious I was over going back to visit The Loft as part of my private pilgrimage - - the second of two specific places I needed (and wanted) to go to by myself.   So many memories - - most of them joyful - - the rush to the head and heart is impossible to keep up with when they launch. 

It began as I entered Evanston on the "L" train, approaching our regular stop, two blocks from the loft, and continued full force as I did the ride by that I wrote about earlier.  Later, as I embarked on my walk, with suitcase in tow, from downtown heading south toward The Loft, the closer I got, the more intense the rush.  My intention is to hopefully get inside the building and spend some ruminating time on the roof-top deck - - setting the cast of loving completion from this now widowed state.   It's mid-day and the building is quiet, might be a while before someone exits and I can grab the door; no worries, I've got nothing but time. 

I notice something that will manifest my intention in about 15-seconds...the large loading-dock door is open, it's trash day.  This loading-dock area, serves as the trash receptacle storage and recycling area, with a pedestrian door that has direct, open access to the the 1st floor hallway.  Hah-Zah!  I look around to see if anyone can see me -- I'm free and clear.  My suitcase awaits in the front door vestibule, purse over my shoulder, and I'm SMO-Gyver, scaling the 5-foot high wall to the platform that is adjacent to the access door.   I can feel Boomer laughing with me and saying, "Hey SMO, looks like all your recent window climbing is really paying off for you today.  That's my girl." (read Tipping). 

I'm in.  Score!  Walking down the hallway of the first floor, feeling a bit proud of my ingenuity and chutzpah, I pause when I reach the lobby and just look around.  Something is different - - the smell.   The aroma of this common-area hallway is different; neither good nor bad, just different, and the carpeting is looking really, really shabby.  Bummer.  

I tuck my suitcase under the stairwell of the lobby and hit the elevator button to head on up.   Access to the roof-top deck is through the stairwell, and I take our familiar route from the 3rd floor where we lived.  Elevator up, turn left to the end of the hall, take the stairs one more flight.  As I exit the elevator, the big glass window overlooking the courtyard is also a direct shot to our old bedroom.  I gaze.  The blinds are the same.  I remember the west view of the tree tops from the courtyard we had laying in bed - - it was so pretty, and the vine that scaled the exterior brick walls and how they began to ensconce the windows.  It was cool.   Belly swirl is full throttle.   I head down the hall to the stairwell.  "Yikes, what's this?" I say to myself when I reach the top.  The door knobs to the exterior roof doors are off the door and the door is "secured" by a cluster of bungee cords hooked to the railing of the stairs.  "Wow, Boomer, this place is falling apart since you've left."  Boomer actively served on the condo association board, the entire seven years he was there.

Step in Time...roof-top view
I step out onto the wood planks that are the deck and look around.  Heavy sigh.  A few chairs are out, two of which were part of the furniture set Boomer was involved in procuring and assembling for the building.  Naturally, that's where I cop a squat and take in the Mary Poppins-esque view to the west.   It's breezy on the roof, the door is bungeeing, a deck railing is quite loose and out of secure alignment - - I'm sad by the disheveled appearance I'm seeing here.   Boomer chimes in, "You're done here SMO, time to go."  He was right, too much was different, the vibe wasn't the same, I was complete.   One more stop in the courtyard to spread a little bit of Boomer is all that's left for me to do.   But not before I walk to the opposite end of the 3rd floor hallway and look at our front door.  Yeah, I know - - I'm being a bit of a closet masochist.    Dare I knock?   I heard a woman's voice when I leaned my ear in.   There's hope for me - - I did not.  Definitely not where I wanted or needed to go.  My grief work, here at The Loft, is done. 

I must have looked over my shoulder, both left and right (read Left,Right) four times as I departed the building and made the walk, for the absolute very last time, to the "L".   I knew with every glance behind me, it wasn't just me, but Boomer too, along side me; each of us saying farewell to our beloved first home together -- The Loft.   

No comments:

Post a Comment