Moving, A History (Part I)


Our move date is fast approaching (two more weeks) and I’ve been feeling nostalgic. This is the longest I have lived anywhere. Ever. In my whole life. I’ve been in this apartment almost 4 1/2 years. I moved in as a newlywed and I’m moving out as a mother of a 3-year-old (still married, of course, but no longer a newlywed). A lot has changed. A lot has stayed the same, but I’d say there’s been more change than at any other time in my adult life. In the vein of my Alphabet Series, I’m writing a compilation of all the moves I’ve made in my adult life, since I graduated from college. Moving, a History (Part I):

June, 1998

I graduated with my BS in media from Southwest Missouri State in Springfield, Missouri, just last month. My roommate moved out of the duplex we shared right after graduation, and now I’m moving into my very own place. It’s a small apartment in a big old white house on the corner of Kimbrough and Monroe and it has a (nonworking) fireplace and a bathtub and hardwood floors. And it’s just a ten-minute walk to my boyfriend’s place. I’m going to hang my postcard collection on a string from one end of the living room ceiling to the other and I’m going to listen to Nina Simone all the time and cook dinner and breakfast for me and my boyfriend in the little kitchen and it’s going to be awesome and I can’t wait for the rest of my life to finally start.

October, 1998

The house on Kimbrough had roaches, which was bad enough. But then one morning I was cooking breakfast for my boyfriend and myself and a MOUSE ran across the stove. A mouse! I ran out of the apartment, got in my car, and drove straight to my boyfriend’s place. I didn’t even put our dirty dishes in the sink first. Later that day I found an apartment on Jefferson, right across the street from my boyfriend. It has a big bedroom and a dining room and a deck. I don’t like the carpet on the floor and the kitchen is kind of small, but whatever. It doesn’t have mice (I asked), and I can move in this week. I’m buying a new sofa.

August, 2000

My boyfriend (not the one on Jefferson; that didn’t work out) and I are moving to Chicago together with our three cats (two are his and one is mine). We’ve only been dating like nine months, and I have no idea if we’ll be together forever or what, but we don’t have any expectations or anything so it’s cool. This is an adventure. We found an apartment on the first floor of an old Victorian home on Belmont, in Roscoe Village. It’s a two-bedroom. We’ll each have our own room! Because, why not? We’re not even sure if we’re going to be together forever. This is just an adventure we’re on. The new place has a black-and-white checkered floor in the kitchen, a cool old built-in hutch, a big bay window in the living room, and exposed heating ducts. It’s pretty awesome. I could see us being here a while. A couple years anyway. I’m going to paint my bedroom periwinkle. I’ve always wanted to paint my bedroom walls.

August, 2001

The house on Belmont didn’t work out. It’s too small for all of us, and plus, we had to pay for our own heating and we didn’t realize that was going to cost like $300 a month in the winter. We don’t have that kind of money. Or, at least we didn’t. My boyfriend works at Potbelly sandwich shop, but he just got a big promotion and a raise so things might get a little easier for us, financially. I’ve been working two part-time jobs for like $12 an hour, but I quit both of those jobs and got a new one. This one’s full-time. I’m working at A New Leaf flower shop down on Michigan Avenue, and I have full benefits and everything. I’ve never had full benefits, like with health insurance, so that’s cool.

Anyway, our new place is in Edgewater. It’s also a two-bedroom, but it’s bigger. And even though it costs more, we don’t have to pay for the heat, so it kind of comes out the same. Plus, we’re like five minutes away from the beach. And down the street from the L. And around the corner from Jewel. So, it’s pretty awesome. And the hallway has these really cool lights like you see in galleries, you know? Like, if we hung up some cool artwork, it would totally look like a an art gallery or a wall in a museum or something. And the bathroom is so cool! It has a claw foot tub. And a phone! By the toilet! So, you can be sitting there on the john and, if the phone rings, you can pick it up! Like, no big deal. And I love the blue wallpaper in the bathroom and the cranberry red carpet. I guess some people don’t like carpet in the bathroom, but I do. It makes the whole space feel like a little jewel box and I love it. I’m going to paint my bedroom walls turquoise.

March, 2004

Brian and I broke up. No big surprise there. He was a super nice guy and I’ll miss him (and the cats) but this was like two years coming. He moved out in January to a high-rise condo downtown. I helped him pick out new bedding for his new place, and I helped him pack and unpack a little bit. I told him we could still have dinner together once a week or so. He lives only a couple blocks from UIC, where I’m going to grad school and where I have a night class on Tuesdays that gets out at 8, so maybe I can just walk to his place after and we can make dinner together and watch “American Idol” and it will be like hanging out with a good friend. It will be nice.

I’m moving in with another good friend now. Chad. His roommate moved out too and he isn’t ready to move in with his new boyfriend just yet, and so we decided we’d try living together for a while. His place is great, I love it, but his landlord doesn’t allow cats, so I found us this killer place in Uptown on Magnolia. It has TWO decks. And two living rooms. And two bathrooms! And a dishwasher! I’ve never lived anywhere with a dishwasher before. I’m going to paint my bedroom honey gold and I’m getting new bedding that’s red and my whole theme is like “Arabian Nights.” It’s going to be awesome.

June, 2004

Living with Chad didn’t work out. So I found a new place for myself and his boyfriend moved in to the place on Magnolia. Whatever. My new place is on Winnemac in Andersonville, which is basically where I’ve wanted to live since I moved to Chicago. It doesn’t have a deck, but it has a little back stoop where I’m going to set up a couple chairs and some plants. And the kitchen has a black-and-white checkered floor just like the place on Belmont had!

My new place has a bay window, and a dining room, and it’s a ten-minute walk to the beach. Ok, maybe 15. Whatever, it’s close. I’m painting the kitchen lavender and hot pink. It sounds crazy, I know, but it actually works. Especially with the checkered floor. And I’m painting the dining room spring green and the living room mocha, and the bathroom the same lavender as the kitchen and I’m painting my bedroom honey gold again. I’m staying with the Arabian Nights theme.

By the way, I don’t see Brian for dinner every week anymore. I got a new boyfriend and I just don’t think it’s appropriate. Plus, I don’t really have time.

September 2007

Living in the place on Winnemac is the longest I’ve lived anywhere. When I moved in, I was in a relationship I hoped would lead somewhere, but it fizzled about nine months later, and for the next 14 months or so I was single. Single, single, single. Oh, I mean, I dated. I was pretty much always dating. But not like exclusively. It was fun. And it was lonely. It got so lonely. I got another cat. That helped a little bit. But I was still lonely. And none of these guys I dated was interested in like really being with me. Or I wasn’t really interested in them. And I started worrying that maybe I had missed my chance at finding someone and that I would always be alone, or at least not with someone in a significant way.

And then I met Drew.

And everything changed. And now I’m moving to NYC to be with him. I’m going to stay at his place for a while until I find a job and my own apartment. Or, hell, if we love living together and it’s going really well, maybe I’ll just stay there, with him.

I’m going to leave all my stuff in storage in Chicago and I’ll send for it if I decide to stay and when I know where I’ll be living. For now, I’m bringing three suitcases and Miles and Simone. And that’s it.

I’m scared. And I’m excited. And I kind of can’t believe I’m doing this. But I’m doing this. And who knows. Maybe this is it. Maybe Drew’s really the one, and I owe it to myself to see. Maybe we’ll be together for a really long time. Maybe we’ll get married and have kids and have adventures for the rest of our lives. At any rate, I’m going to wait a while before I paint any walls.


  1. I love this. You’re a great writer and storyteller. I’ve also moved a lot. I lose track but I think 25 places in 24 years. I learned the hard way that we shouldn’t really own a place and live in it because I always get the itch to move. My husband had lived in 2 places his entire life before moving in with me. It’s crazy! I hope your move goes well!

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Drew’s dad still lives in the same apartment drew grew up in, and when I met Drew, he’d been living in the same place for over 12 years, so we are like you and your husband in that respect.

  2. eelliinnss says:

    This is super cute, Wendy writes how I wish I could!
    It also makes me want to move but I don’t live in an area where I’ve got a lot of options πŸ™

  3. Ooh I really like how you write from the perspective of the current time at each move. It really emphasizes how time changes your perspective about things like apartments and boyfriends πŸ™‚ I’m not quite at Wendy’s or mylaray’s moving stats, because I lived in one home from ages 3-18. In the last 7 years though, I’ve spent at least 3 months in 12 different houses/apartments so I am beginning to understand how it is to keep moving around — simultaneously exhausting and regenerative, and much easier to get rid of clutter and stuff you don’t need! Thankfully for the last six years or so, I’ve considered home to be wherever my husband is, so even though I’ve moved a lot I still feel like I’ve enjoyed a lot of stability.

  4. It was a great read Wendy, I also liked how you told every bit of story like you were still in the moment. But WOAH, you painted a lot of walls in a lot of apartments ! I’ve been in my apartment for one year and I’m not going to move for another year or two or three, and I have NO plans of painting the walls. For me, just the idea that I will have to paint them back to the original color before moving out is a big turn off.

    Oh and I have 10-feet ceilings and huge windows in every room on almost every wall. I do not feel like going on that adventure.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Believe it or not, I’ve never had to paint the walls back when I move (and I’ve always gotten my full security deposit). Even this time, the new tenants moving into our current place want to keep the walls the colors we painted. Thank God for small favors.

      1. It’s written on my lease that my landlords will provide me with THE EXACT SHADE AND BRAND of paint that was on the wall when I arrived, so I can paint it back EXACTLY THE SAME. πŸ™

  5. I’ve only had two “grown up” places to live so far, one being out in the middle of nowhere and like 500 miles from home. It was the cutest little house — 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom, nice kitchen, etc. — but I really don’t miss anything about it, or the town I lived in. I remember being really really sad moving there and moving into the house. I cried a lot when in reality I should have been super happy.
    I love my apartment. It’s small. It doesn’t have amenities like dishwasher or washer/dryer. But it’s home and I love it. I was really really happy to move in here because I knew it was a positive step in the right direction.

  6. I love reading your personal essays, Wendy. Something about the way you write is so comforting. And familiar. I love it.
    I moved a lot once I left home in 2000. I had a year in an apartment with my brother, then realized, living with my brother without a parental buffer wasn’t a great idea. Then I moved back home for a little while until I moved into my first place of own. It had brick wallpaper in the kitchen. It was ugly and charming at the same time. Then I decided to move to NYC, but had a six month stint with friends to save some money. They had 4 kids at the time and I loved being part of their family. Then I lived in Park Slope in an awesome two bedroom. My best friend moved in with us to help save money since we had a HUGE living room and could convert half of it into a makeshift third bedroom. After a year I was really home sick, so 5 months later moved back to the Boston area. That was in 2005. I lived in 4 apartments (the longest was for 4 years in my own place again. Seriously, if you’ve never lived alone, do it.) before moving in with my now fiance a year and 4 months ago. And this past weekend we moved into the condo we just bought! So I guess this essay was particularly moving for me, given where I am right now.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Congrats on the new condo! We are hoping that this new place for us will be the last rental and that in a few years we will be able to buy our dream-ish home and actually settle in for a while. If I am capable of settling in. I guess we’ll see!

      1. Thanks, Wendy! It’s a beautiful condo in an old house in Salem, MA that was built in 1795! Talk about character. Fortunately, it has some great updates, like a beautiful kitchen and renovated bathrooms…we have very little work to do. Except unpack and decorate! And I am sure if you find the right place in the right location, settling in won’t feel like settling πŸ™‚

      2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        I love Salem!! Enjoy the new place.

      3. Thanks!

      4. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Ooh, 1795 β€” I wonder if there are any ghosts!

  7. Ha! We have been wondering the same thing.

    1. Oops…this was supposed to be under my original comment.

    2. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Well, keep an eye out for things like coins (especially groups of coins) in odd places, lights on in rooms you haven’t used (or in rooms where you know you turned the lights off), opened drawers or closet doors, weird sounds. I lived in an haunted house once (i’ve written about it before, so you might remember reading about it) and it can be spooky but also kind of fascinating.

      1. The funny thing is, A leaves groups of coins everywhere, always leaves lights on, and his closet doors and drawers open, ha!! It will be when I am hope alone that I will wonder….

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