Sex and the City? More Like Stuart Little Goes to Chicago
The move went surprisingly well.
I know, no one was expecting that. I sure as hell wasn’t. But aside from the two minor fender benders (hey, drunk neighbor? Remember when you knocked my rearview mirrors off and pretended like it wasn’t you? Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it?) (We told her it was us. Even called the cops, but we didn’t get a ticket and now their insurance says the 1992 truck has sustained $2800 worth of damage, when the POS for sure isn’t worth as much as my Grand Am. Good luck with that!) and a minor boxspring/screen door mishap ~ leaving Chicago Ridge behind in a cloud of dust was surprisingly easy. Marc, Trisha, Carly, and Bob are expert movers and many thanks to you moving the four hundred pound entertainment center until we had it just where we wanted it. (Marc? Just a little more to the left …. No? What do you mean, no?)
So things are good. We are loving our house, we have awesome neighbors with whom we’ve already planned barbecues and parties with, and nearly everyone we’ve met has been super nice and friendly. The cats have yet to rebel and pee on anything and appear to be adjusting well, and we have spent much time with me at one end of the house and Tony at the other yelling “Hey!! I love all this space!! How is it over there??” Initially, I was slightly concerned with what I could possibly write about what with the lack of hatred for the people/places around me. But no worries, my life does not come without comic relief and I have found it in the form of trying to get ANYWHERE by myself around here.
Now, anyone who knows me knows I have a terrible sense of direction. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gotten lost leaving Woodfield Mall. In Chicago Ridge, the mall is extraordinarily small compared to Woodfield, and up until last year, I had to make sure to park in front of Panera or I’d end up nearly at Kelly’s before I figured out I was going the wrong way. Anyplace I’m going in the general vicinity of Elk Grove, where I lived nearly my entire life, I pretty much have to start at my parents if I’d like to get there properly. I still can’t find the Rosemont without Mapquest and have been known to drive to O’Hare while trying to get on the Kennedy. When telling people how to get places, I have to stand in the middle of the room and basically walk it “Then go right,” turn body right, “at the next light go left,” turn body left, “then it’s on your right, wait, left hand side. I think.”
I had finally gotten a pretty good handle on the south side, meaning that you could tell me 11325 Pulaski and I knew that was somewhere around 113th and Pulaski. But that was after years of calling Kelly frantically, “I was on my way and got on Southwest Highway (evil fucking angle road) and somehow I’m in Orland. And don’t ask if I’m going east or west or north or south because I DON’T KNOW. 159th is next, help me get home.” But that’s all numbers, and now I’m back to actual streets. Well, there’s also numbers, but I don’t understand them. And I know that “Chicago’s a grid, it’s so easy, you can find anywhere if you know State and Madison is zero/zero.” Yeah, I know State and Madison is zero/zero. All that gives me is a very, very vague idea of how far north or south I am depending on those numbers on the street signs. Unless I am going to 100 E. Madison, that’s not super helpful.
It drives my poor dad crazy. Having worked and lived in the Chicago area his entire life, you can give him an address anywhere on the north side of the city and he will give you the next intersection and what is on all four corners. I can call him, say I’m at whatever intersection, and tell him what side of the street the Citgo’s on, and he knows what direction I’m going. He’s like my own personal TomTom. My first job out of college, I worked at 222 S. Riverside, which is literally above Union Station, which was the train I arrived in. Being that there was a food court downstairs, I rarely ventured past the Sears Tower and thus developed no concept of where I was in the four years I worked there. Whenever I’d have to ask how to get somewhere, he’d say, “Courtney, just know that the lake is East. If you’re heading toward the lake, you’re going east. If you’re headed away from the lake, you’re going west.” And I’d reply, “That’s all fine and good, but if I cannot physically SEE the lake, this is of no benefit to me.”
My new landmark is the Sears Tower. If I can get to/see it, I can generally get some semblance of where I am or what direction I’m headed. On a foggy day, though, I’m pretty much fucked. Here are a few examples of mistakes I have made and circles I have turned in the past week and a half.
“So where’s your new place?” Me, proudly, cause I know this one. “Around Lincoln and Western.” “Oh, wow, that’s great. Are you north or south of Foster?” Me, now not so proud, “Um, it’s left of us if you walk out to Lincoln?” (Side note, I am now almost positive we’re south of Foster.)
“How far north of Wrigley are you?” No idea. I’m pretty sure if you make a right off of our street, go for awhile, and then make a left, you’ll get there eventually. But I am positive that if I hop in a cab, I will be there in less time.
Autumn came by the second night we were here. (It must be mentioned here that despite our great new neighborhood, some tweaker freaked out and fell in our alley RIGHT behind the house while we were outside. Red and blue flashing lights with firemen and paramedics running through our backyard wasn’t exactly the first impression I was hoping to give the neighbors, who just kept exclaiming, “This has never happened before!”) While we were walking to get something to eat, I asked her, “So, which direction am I going?” “North.” Pause. “Are you sure?” “Yes. I’m sure.” “I was thinking west…”
Saturday night, I was out with my sister and some friends for a bachelorette party. I took a cab home by myself for the first time, (mostly because I was so excited that this was an option) and just told him the main intersection. When he pulled up to it, he said, “Here okay?” And I was all, “Sure!” paid him, and got out before realizing I was a solid two blocks away from my house, it was 2 in the morning, and I was a little drunk. Luckily, it was only midnight in Arizona and Kristin stayed on the phone with me while I made my way home.
Sunday, I picked up my car from my sister’s with the intent on going to my parents for Mother’s Day. Despite everyone giving me directions, I Mapquested it. Directions neglected to mention that the entrance for 290 is off of Roosevelt, but only if you get on 90/94 first. I ended up on Lakeshore Drive in dead stop traffic while my car overheated and ended up in the loop (right by that first job of mine, by the way) with no concept of how to get back to my house.
Took a cab to the Blue Line to get to my parents. Cabbie, “Okay if I just take Foster instead of (something unintelligible, at least to me,) with you?” Me, being the consumate, smart, urbanite, “Um, yeah, that’s cool. Foster makes sense.” This was preceded with a conversation with Carly who told me, “It won’t be more than seven dollars. If it is, he’s going the wrong way.” Fast forward to the meter reading $7.75, hurtling through an alley, me clutching my purse and looking around for some concept of which way I’m heading and wondering what I’m supposed to say. “My sister said it shouldn’t cost more than this,” seems like it might make me seem even more confused than I am, so I keep my mouth shut. Total fare is $9.25, and I’m thinking if I hadn’t walked three blocks in the wrong direction to catch said cab, she probably would’ve been right.
Other side notes include multiple askings of “Now which direction am I going in?” “Where’s my house from HERE?” two slight meltdowns at three way intersections (yeah, grid, my ass,) and pointing to what I think is the right way only for Tony to point in the complete opposite direction and condescendingly say, “Did you mean that way?” On Friday, I am going to a concert at Arlington Park, which is going to involve a bus, a train, and an El ride. And possibly a cab, if I fuck up at any of the previously mentioned stops. Please keep your fingers crossed. I have visions of a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” level travelling disaster.
On the plus side, I’m pretty decent at parallel parking, as long as it’s on the right side of the street and no one’s behind me. And everyone keeps telling me I’ll get the hang of it, eventually.
I’m not incredibly hopeful about that, but it still kicks the shit out of where we were living.