Chicago Through the Rearview Mirror

  • Between Cruises
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, Chicago

Suitcases and half-packed boxes fill my tiny apartment in Chicago. After spending the warm weather months of nearly three years here, I’m heading head back to my native Texas.

With all the cruising I have planned for 2020 and 2021, it doesn’t make sense to keep renting in Chicago. I’ll stay in my sister’s guest room when I’m not living in a ship stateroom over the next couple of years.

It also doesn’t make sense to keep most of my stuff, so I’m giving away my furniture. Moving and storing it would cost more than replacing it. I’ll keep dishes, good knives, pots and pans and other kitchen things that bring me joy. They don’t take up much space, and I’ll use them again at some point. I’m also culling my wardrobe. I plan to only keep enough to fit in a cruise ship closet.

Marie Kondo would be proud.

Many of my friends are in various stages of downsizing – not just moving to smaller homes, but minimizing what we own. We spent decades accumulating. And I truly enjoyed decorating my Texas-sized home, even at one time changing accessories several times a year. Perhaps I felt an unhealthy sense of pride in what I had achieved on my own. I don’t miss that lifestyle.

Living in Chicago has proven to me that I can adapt to almost anywhere. I can survive life without a dishwasher, a microwave, central air or four guest rooms. I do miss the convenience of a washer and dryer, as well as the fun of hosting pool parties. But even better is free laundry on a cruise, surrounded by an ocean. It’s a good tradeoff.

I hope my Chicago season of life is only on hiatus. I’ve made dear friends through writing and sketching groups. I’ve experienced urban life – from the constant noise to the wonderfully accessible mass transit. I’ve introduced visiting friends to “my” new city, from the “Bean” to Ravinia concerts. Just Sunday I stood in the spot where one of my favorite Audi TT ads was created.

And I’ve found a neighborhood coffee shop where they really do know my name.

The bottom line is that I traded a house for travel. I’m spending my house money on cruises. And if the money for cruising runs out, I can be happy living again in a small apartment. Maybe it will be back in Chicago (but not in the winter). Maybe it will be in another city. Wherever, I will make it a home.

Life is a journey. I wonder where it will take me next.