Monday, July 14, 2008

Soon, a new home

The ad in the Daily Herald caught my interest:

ELGIN NE 3br ¾ acre/wds fp, bsmt w/d, deck,porch, ac No pets.

Hmm. Three bedrooms! 3/4 acre woods! Fireplace!

I called and made an appointment to see the place today. It's on the end of a dead-end street in an older neighborhood of estate properties, surrounded by woods and bordering a bike path on the Fox river. A path from my yard leads to a small private beachfront, with winding trails laid down by the landlord.

There is indeed a fireplace in the wood-paneled living room. The kitchen is small, but the master bedroom huge, with windows on three sides, woodsy views, and no neighbors in sight! This is like a vacation retreat in the city. And while I'm close to the river, the house is uphill and shows no signs of flood damage. It's close enough to both schools I'll be teaching at that I can bike to work.

This is my first house rental and only the second place I checked out. My search criteria ruled out townhomes or any places in new suburban build, what I not-so-affectionately call "Yupville." I know my soul would die coming home to tract housing every night. I don't know how the vast majority of American homeowners do it. Ruling out Yupville housing in Elgin/Streamwood/Bartlett/South Elgin narrowed my search considerably. I was first going to look in downtown Elgin, the historic district nearby, drive around the neighborhoods on the perimeters of forest preserves looking for 'for rent' signs, and in Happy Valley, a blue collar enclave between St. Charles and South Elgin off of Highway 25. Former Geneva resident Arbo told me cheap rents could be had there. But the above ad caught my eye before I could enact that plan.

I've opted to pay a higher rent to have a house, but I want a safe place for my son to run and play, and room for me to stretch out after living lo these long years in cramped apartments listening to my neighbors plumbing.

This place is going to be awesome. I can't wait to have guests over so I can show off my cool new digs. Hey, I can have guests over now! What a concept. I won't have to bang into my bike every time I open the front door. And the front door won't open into the bedroom. I won't have to store boxes underneath the kitchen table or angle the couch away from the wall to create more storage space for Jonny's toys and other miscellaneous crap. I may actually have extra shelf space in a closet soon. The monsters can come back under my bed. All the stuff stored there can go elsewhere. I can be reunited with all my books for the first time since 2000, including the thousands of comic books from my admittedly nerdy youth.

Notably absent in my new digs will be a video game system or flat screen television. No new furniture either. The 21st century will be present -- a laptop, stereo radio, and a 13-inch TV/DVD combo -- but unobtrusively out of the living room.

Okay, I'm done bragging on the new place. But I'm so elated to find it. I've had my doubts about moving out here. I'm a Midwestern mountain man who's never lived in Chicagoland. For the past couple weeks, living at my brother's place in Hoffman Estates, I've noticed how "ALL THE SAME!" bland it is. Heavy traffic. High population density. A maze of strip malls and neighborhoods. What am I doing here? Making a living, doing what I love. I'm an adaptable creature. I'll make do. Better than that. I've found a place that suits my personality.

Can't wait to post pictures. I sign the lease Wednesday.

On another note, I will post excerpts from my Boundary Waters journals soon.

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