WARNING: Weirdly nostalgic, too-wordy post ahead.
A few nights this week, for no real reason I know of, I've had dreams about living at our old condo. When I woke up each time I was so homesick for our little place. So...this post.
The lobby in our building. So fancy. Those chairs? The older people in our building (we had lots of 'em, much to my joy cause I love elders) would sit and wait for their mail every day. One sweet man with Parkinson's Disease would sit there every single day with his nurse and on my wedding day he was waiting for his mail when he stopped me to tell me how "absolutely breathtaking" I looked and hugged me. Again, I LOVE ELDERS.
Once upon a time we used to rent a little condo (from 2010 to 2012). A two bed, two bath in the just-outside-of-Chicago suburbs. An 18 minute train ride to downtown Chicago with a Target and a movie theater and a Trader Joe's right down the street and easy access to all highways (nice for my commuter self and my commuter then fiancé). A stone's throw from one of my favorite cousins with the best neighbors and the world's most wonderful landlady. A big, fat forest preserve with the best walking trail across the street. A big, fancy (to me) lobby with a big mailbox wall and a buzzer system.
Our ground floor balcony where I spent many nights with a glass of wine and a best friend. This was taken in late winter when I was trying to find a new renter when we put an offer on a house. In warmer seasons the flower boxes were always full of blooms. We had a tiny grill that just barely fit and spent many nights eating (veggie) burgers and people watching at the pool.
I loved that little home so, so much. The home where we became a married couple (we moved in about 6 months before our wedding and all our DIY wedding decorations were created within these walls) and I started my first (now defunct) blog and hosted game nights and did rad DIY home projects and befriended old people floor-mates who gave us cool stuff (a never opened 1970's kiwi-shaped fondue set!) and spent the most wonderful, most mundane weekday nights of home-cooked dinners and sitcoms and early bedtimes. On weeknights we could hear our neighbor, Jo-Bee (her real name), singing along to Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell and it would crack me up as I fell asleep. We didn't have a TV in our bedroom and we turned electronics off at 9pm week-nightly. We passed out sugar free candy on Christmas Eve morning to our neighbors and stuck big gift bows to their doors. I would purposely make extra baked goods on any occasion and bring them to our sweet neighbors across the hall (Bruce and Laura) and when they went on vacations they would bring us back shot glasses and beer steins. We made big pots of coffee on Saturday mornings and I walked around Trader Joe's after work on Fridays. We had our first sleepover with Addie and Katie before the LaGrange Pet Parade. I had a big sleepover after my bachelorette party full of laughter and cheese sticks. We would drag our bedroom mattress out to the front room and watch movies all weekend.
Sometimes I just terribly miss that place.
The entryway, with (you can't see it) the biggest coat closet ever. I loved that thing.
I would never change our current home. I love being one house away from my best friend and having so many trees and having room to breathe. I love having enough space for a pup and a washing machine in my own home. But, after less than a year in a really craphole apartment with HORRID neighbors, my heart grew three sizes when we moved into that rented condo.
This is the kitchen where I learned how to cook and bake like a grown-up. Also, I loved that window shaped cut-out that overlooked the dining room.
When Rhyno and I first rented our own place, just the two of us, we didn't choose correctly. Our first apartment was thin walled-thin floored (which meant a constant aroma of pot from the downstairs neighbors), poorly neighbored (weird scary story: I was watching the 20/20 special on Rihanna/Chris Brown when the cops were first called to our building because my neighbors across the hall were beating one another...the cops were called weekly after that...mostly by me), and we were right off a set of freight train tracks (when I had all of my impacted wisdom teeth pulled in one day, the SO loud noise made my face hurt). When we moved into the condo and broke our apartment lease early it was heavenly. Quiet and cute and spacious and wonderful. Bruce and Laura across the hall brought us a wine and fruit basket as a "welcome to the building" gift on our move-in day and would always sign for our packages and leave us their house keys when they went on vacation and never told on us when my parents would bring my family dogs, Little Bear and Lucy, to visit.
Our first apartment was our first "place" the condo was our first "home."
Our huge front room/dining room.
You could say this condo was nothing special, but to me it was everything. I loved nothing more than pulling into the parking lot after more than an hour commute home after a long day and seeing the lights on in my home. I loved sitting on the balcony with a cold drink and a best friend on a hot night. I loved snuggling with my then fiancé/now husband slurping tea and watching sitcoms before a 10pm bedtime on a Tuesday. I loved walking into this place every single day. You know how they say you always yearn for your childhood home? I do. And also, this place.
The very last time that I used my key to open the door to Unit 106 I cried. When we were signing the final paperwork and getting our security deposit back after two years we had a small dinner on the condo counter with our landlady, her husband and their baby in the condo. We brought her champagne and chocolate. She gave us a big housewarming basket to bring to our new house and I died from cuteness (a birdhouse, kitchen staples, wine, a wreath, and stamps). I think you leave pieces of your heart in little places all over the world and for me? This is one of them. A teeny part of my heart is still there--in the place where I finally became a wife, where I learned who my best friends really were, where I mourned the loss of a longtime family pet (Little Bear) in, where I fell so in love with my life in every single way.
I've been thinking about this little place a lot lately, having dreams about it. This is the place where we started to really build our lives and it was so wonderful and magical and lovely. I so appreciate every moment I had within those walls and will always love these little photos of our little rented home.
Do you have any little places that your heart calls home?