"So, how's it going?" my daughter asked. Her voice rose with the question, as if anticipating my upbeat answer.
I didn't disappoint: "Great!" I said. "I love it -- the views, the building's staff, my mornings at the East Bank Club. Terrific!"
There was a pause on her end, long enough for me to jump in to blunt a possible reaction to my gush.
"I know what you're thinking," I said. "How long will the euphoria last before Mom doesn't love it anymore?"
Silence. I took her non-response as affirmation to my notion, and opportunity to plow ahead.
"I admit that first impressions of all of my recent apartments have been ecstatic," I said, feeling liberated to take ownership of my proclivity. "I loved Aqua, L.A., and, Kingsbury Plaza. I loved them all until I got the itch to move."
I was reciting my last three residences after the death of Tommy; each entailed leases signed, then aborted before two years expired. When the ardor cooled, subletting to new tenants provided my escapes.
"I did love all of those places," I said. "I have fond memories of the apartments, neighborhoods, and pals made at each one." Was that guilt forcing me to add a defense? I had always claimed "no regrets" at my swift decisions, but perhaps a bit of remorse -- for friends and family left behind -- did linger.
After our conversation ended, I thought more about my tendency, and then I realized it extended beyond location -- to mates and jobs.
I'll pin one reason on my opening mood to a sense of optimism. I always see the glass as half full. When I find a new apartment, get a new job, or meet a new man; I immediately list the positives. And that allows me to move quickly.
It never occurs to me to pick out the negatives, as if I were lifting lint from a new garment. And, if some downside does manage to crash through my buoyancy, I might take a peek, then toss it aside. Sunny cheer suits me much better.
Interestingly, my two marriages started with speedy romances, and in both cases, it wasn't my ardor that leaked. I was in for the long haul.
In Numero uno, the minute the tall medical student revealed she chose me over her longtime girlfriend, I was ready to dive into a secret romance. (It was under wraps because the girlfriend was also one of my best school chums.) Should I have microscoped the negatives -- here's someone willing to break a heart and love in private -- but I buried those clues deep enough to wed within a year. We lasted 30 years, until another woman (it was my spouse herself who could not keep hidden her true identity, and eventually transitioned) broke us apart.
In marriage Numero dos, Tommy and I had one date. One! And within a few weeks, he had moved his thrift shop wardrobe into my townhouse. Despite our differences -- me Jewish, him, not; me with a masters' degree, he with a high school diploma; me with a luxury lifestyle, him with that thrift shop clothing, a bike instead of a car, and a YMCA membership (I was already an East Bank member back then) -- we were happily together and wed for a total of 16 years. Neither of our devotion expired; but he did in 2012.
Let's see, we've covered apartments and spouses, now let's look at jobs. Similar gushy phone calls to friends and family: "I've been hired at Bernard Ury Associates," which I left after a year to start my own P.R. firm. Then, a brief fling at Public Communications Inc. before I went to the press office of Mayor Jane Byrne. The next year, communications head for the Chicago Public Schools, and then to Jasculca/Terman for one year. And, finally back to my own freelance writing and P.R. consulting. (I also tossed in a few months in retail -- at The Gap and Apple.)
True to form, initial bliss turned to an eventual search for the exits. But in my defense, my affection for these assignments was genuine and I'm grateful for the experiences. No regrets; it was just time to turn in the badges.
So now let's return to our opening and the question you may have landed, and stuck on, "How long is Elaine going to love her new apartment at Hubbard Place? Will she live out the lease and even perhaps re-up, or will she jump ship and sublet?"
I can't promise you anything, but at the age of 78, and a bit weary of the sorting, packing, and schlepping -- and genuinely contented with my new home and location -- I'm pining for stability. Pine with me, please.