Campus sits west of the Chicago river, at the circle interchange of the Kennedy and Eisenhower expressways.  In the 60s UIC wedged its way into and consumed Chicago’s Little Italy, grew tentacles into the near west and south sides.  At one time called Circle Campus after the knot of concrete ramps where the two arteries bisect, it was built similarly of concrete in a style called Brutalism, emulating Soviet public housing, “riot proof,” with double-layer covered walkways akin to parking garages, an open-air amphitheater and massive concrete wheelchair ramps to 2nd floor entries reiterating the circle motif.  A miniature replica of an Eastern Bloc city, and likewise now with crumbling concrete, permanent scaffolding erected to protect students and faculty milling on (and off) grass lined footpaths under trees that replaced the severe web of covered walkways in the 90s.  The circular quad in front of 24-story University Hall underwent a decade-long project (that should’ve taken about a year) to add grassy knolls, flowered borders, and (perhaps a reminder of Brutalism) tile-lined fountains that rarely run because they’re broken.  But I walk campus without envy for Northwestern, University of Chicago, DePaul, or Loyola.  They have tradition, bigger trees, a vine-covered brick building probably called “Old Main.”  We have Brutalism.  It’s where part of me –  a native Californian – lives, has lived for almost 20 years.

I am in a bit of a mood.  Or as my husband calls it – I am having a time.  I have suddenly gotten quite cross with him, giving looks and huffing noticeably.  The problem, though, has nothing to do with him.

It’s Sunday, which means it is Open House Day.  Open House Day usually starts out with such high hopes for me, girly anticipation of new and better closets and wonders to discover behind each welcome mat.  But after searching for a house to buy for almost three years now (three years!!), you would think that I would not be so Pollyanna about it, not so hopeful, not starting the day at such a high, so as to be not so crushed by the end of it.  And the reason I think I get so irritated by my husband is that he starts the process off rather realistic, borderline pessimistic, so he is never as disappointed by it all as I am.  He recovers quickly.  And that irks me.

I really want a house.  I really want a yard where I can throw my son a big birthday party.  The mom in me wants to buy curtains and keep a tidy home that is ours, that will serve as the other character in the stories of our children’s childhood.

I grew up in an apartment building in New York City.  I loved it.  I rode my bike though our hallways and went on adventures up and down our elevator.  I didn’t know anything else.  I didn’t know that children played outside until their parents called them in.  And now that I know it, I want it.  It seems so adult.  It’s the thing to do.  I think the truth is, my son might not know anything different, just like me on West End Ave, where fun was when the mailman let me help him.  But if I’m honest, I want a yard for the ease of having my son just run around in the back so I know exactly where he is and don’t have to schlep him to the park constantly.  I want laundry at my fingertips, not down a flight of stairs and a pocket full of quarters.  I want to paint a room or scratch a floor and not worry what someone else might say.  In short, I want to be a grown up.

And though I am desperate to move, I actually love our neighborhood and love where we live.  I love that there is a park down the street, Whole Foods around the corner.  I love my son’s school and Brian and his crew at N.Y. Bagel Deli.  I love that when I walk into to the dry cleaners, I don’t have to give my name.  I even love our rental apartment that I so desperately want to shed.  In short, I feel a part of this community, but I am willing to leave it to have a house.  (But within reason, this is why we have not fled for the cheaper suburbs.  We want what we want but in the areas we want.  Is that actually soooo much to ask?  Perhaps it is.  Sigh.)

The first house we bid on and didn’t get, felt like we proposed with too puny a ring.  I remember driving by it, like stalking an old boyfriend, tears in my eyes, slumped at the wheel, wondering if it knew that I truly loved it more and that it should have picked me.  I even imagined a scheme where my husband, an Executive Recruiter, would find the new owner of the house of a fabulous job, in let’s say Seattle, and we’d swoop in, ready to take the house off their hands.   But eventually I moved on and we got involved with several others who broke our hearts as well, like the private sale where we were told it was ours if we wanted it and we weren’t even sure we wanted it, but like the charming guy who woos you into bed with promises that you are made for each other, we bid.  Then the sellers changed their minds, and it kind of felt like they went back to their wife.  There were a few others where we were again outbid, including one where they tore the whole thing down and started over and I mourned for my little house that wasn’t. 

And then we actually got a house.  We were the ones breaking everyone’s hearts.  We were the ones the other bidders were cursing.  We’d won.

And after all of that, we changed our minds.  It needed more work than we originally thought, like we’d met the perfect guy but his plumbing didn’t work.

I know I am more desperate for a move because I am pregnant and nesting is taking over for me.  I am suddenly consumed by the mess in our garage or finding the perfect bookshelf to handle all the toys and books.  But I don’t want to buy new things yet because they may not fit in the mythical house we may buy – perhaps even this coming Sunday – and so my world feels a little topsy turvy.

Having a house means being a grown up to me, but perhaps the adult thing to do would be to realize we are in a good place and in no rush (my husband’s point of view, urgh) and to calm down just a tad.

But I know that next Sunday will arrive, and I will continue to search for our one true love, all the while trying not to annoy my actual one true love.