If I joined the McGaw YMCA, my monthly fee would be $66. On the other hand, Evanston Athletic Club would give me a $55 rate. Both facilities included the amenities I desired: indoor pool, cardio equipment, early opening hours, and the possibility of new workout buddies.
Because I don't own a car, Evanston's subsidized taxi service for seniors, at $4 a ride, sounded enticing. But the primary reason for broadening my search for a reasonably priced, one-bedroom, dog-friendly building in that leafy, academic-rich city of 75,000, was that I'd be walking distance from my long-time friend, Ruth.
When I shared my Evanston idea with friends, each had a different thumbs-up: "I grew up in Evanston," said Hannah. "We lived in Evanston for 40 years," said Eve. "I live in Evanston!" said Mark; more evidence that this place, a mere one-hour train ride from Chicago's downtown, would be ideal.
As I explained all of this to my daughter, Jill, she said: "Have you been to any apartments in Evanston?" I recognized the skepticism in her voice. It was a companion at the numerous times I had jumped full-speed-ahead.
"Not yet," I said, feeling myself reversing roles. She was the cautious mom; I the wild teenager proposing a hitchhiking trip across the U.S.
"When you do go visit a place there," she said, "don't get ahead of yourself. Stay in your body and see how you really feel about the place."
Because I value my daughter's wisdom, coming through a cellular line from Los Angeles, I promised I would do just that. I would refrain from hastily signing a lease, registering in a health club, and adopting a dog.
On the day of my appointment with an Evanston leasing agent, I arrived early to walk the property. A pet food store was on ground level. Surely, this was a sign that I had found my next home. I entered, introduced myself, revealed my intentions to move in upstairs (just a reminder: I had not yet viewed the apartment.), and become a regular customer.
Ruth, and my other long-time friend, Karen, met me in the building's reception area. We saw two apartments in my price range; I disliked both, but kept mum.
"Shall we check availability," the convivial leasing agent asked.
Hearing Jill's words in my head, I surveyed my body, which by now had the sensation of jeopardy. "I'm sorry," I said. "This doesn't feel right."
As we left the building for lunch (Lucky Platter), my friends also shared their misgivings. Most importantly, Ruth confessed she would not want to be held responsible if I moved to Evanston for her, and then things didn't turn out well.
While we were eating, Jill called to learn the outcome of my tour. "I took your advice and listened to my body," I said, proud as if I had been named to the Dean's List. "The apartment wasn't right for me, and my heart says it really doesn't want to leave Chicago."
"Now can I ask you to slow down?" she said. "Your lease doesn't end until September. Can you just think about not making a quick move before then?"
"How about if I visit perspective apartments that meet my criteria, but promise I won't sign anything?"
"Sure," Jill said, "if that will help relieve your anxiety."
There was that word my daughter often used to describe my recurring relocations. I thought that diagnosis was pretty much on target, so I combed my emails to identify when my latest itch started: February 2, 2017. That was the date I zoomed a query to a realtor.
The February date at first had me worried. Hadn't I often warned others not to make important decisions during that month of darkness, cold, and forced indoor confinement? Then I perused my frequent moves; many were spurred in months of sunshine or falling leaves. So, I ruled out February as the culprit.
Instead of anxiety as Jill had alleged, what if instead we see a solo, 78-year-old woman who sees time running short. She's surmising that a switch of scenery and shelter, sooner rather than later, from a pricey studio in dense downtown to a lower-priced one bedroom in a Chicago neighborhood, will fix her addiction.
And, as to my daughter's "getting ahead of yourself" scold, I'd like to think of my practice as "fantasizing." That's why I'm now focusing on the footage of my future apartment. With extra space, perhaps I can purchase a small dining table? Maybe you'll come over for dinner? Date flexible; just let me know any food allergies.