Thursday, April 03, 2008

Three Times a (Painted) Lady


Age 15, my mom and I are finally getting our own place after six years of being told that we could be moving out of my grandparents' house ANY TIME NOW! Like we are twenty-something first-time roommates, together we plow through the newspaper, walk around neighborhoods, and look at apartments. I campaign hard for CV; it's near school, near my friends and in the thick of the northern portion of the city that has become my home base since I started school up here in 7th grade.

I find our apartment in a big old building. It's on the 8th floor. There is a gorgeous lobby, staff at the front desk who will screen your phone calls if you wish (a LIVE answering machine!), a little grocery store in the basement, and a Chinese restaurant on site. I am in heaven. The building is "no kids" but I convince them of my advanced maturity by pulling out the Class President card, and we move into #842.

The next three years here will be some of the hardest of my life, but being in CV tempers the awfulness somewhat. I love the Greenway pharmacy, Casey's restaurant where my friend Laura waitresses, walking to Hopkins fair. I become an expert parallel parker and develop my life-long disdain for people who think it's their God- (or municipality) given right to park exactly in front of their home.


Age 24, leaving my marriage and turning my life inside out, I head immediately to CV from the suburbs when I look for an apartment. I check out a few places, and on a whim stop by the building I admired in my teen years. Designed by a famous architect, it's on the busiest retail block and behind the stucco walls is a large, lush courtyard. I see a tiny but beautiful "junior one bedroom" and take it on the spot. It has gleaming hardwood floors, French doors to the bedroom, antique wall sconces, and the biggest closet ever seen (which I will soon fill with no less than a chest, a file cabinet, my clothes, and more stuff than you can imagine).

I live in my little sanctuary for two years. I love shopping across the street. When a blizzard happens, my suburban friends may be snowbound, but I walk a few steps to the grocery, the Chinese take-out, and a bookstore. I go for long walks in the morning, winding through the city streets and exploring the surrounding neighborhoods. At night I might walk to a concert or my favorite Thai restaurant. I love the sounds of the traffic and the college students outside the pub. One Sunday morning there is a festival on my street and I awaken to a bagpipe serenade. My windows are enormous, and my cats happily sunbathe, stomachs up and paws pressed against the screens.


After living together for several years on the edge of the city/suburb line, E and I are looking for a house to buy. Every time I pass the 28th Street exit on the JFX, I feel a pull toward home . E is not a fan of city life, but with the lure of lower prices I drag him to CV to look at the Victorian townhouses. In the very first house, he is blown away by the beauty and character of the home, and this sells him on the area. We soon find our own little house, a rehabbed beauty with a fireplace and Corian counters.

Though I would love to have a big old house with a yard in a leafy neighborhood, it pains me to think of giving up my CV life. The Saturday farmer's market...lunch at Donna's on Sunday afternoons...unlimited free books from the Book and browsing at Barnes & Noble...walks with Sam to discover jewels like a leaded glass "sailboat" basement window in a nearby house, or the robot that lives in another storefront window....skating in the parking lot a block over....the sound of traffic at night in the summer, when the windows are open to the breeze.
I feel a part of this corner of town, and I'm not going anywhere else this time. It's home.


At 8:55 AM, Blogger Sonia said...

cool-I love the way this is written-Keep writing- My depression solution --run through the house naked screaming--the Indians are coming the Indians are coming (LOL)


At 2:16 PM, Blogger mary said...

gina, i love your writing! i'm so excited that you'll be writing every day this month. something to look forward to! :)

At 8:39 AM, Blogger cole edwards said...

I am so glad that Laura has pulled you from your slump of writing!

I got teary and I don't know why reading the last one. I miss CV a lot as that is where I felt we really started our MD life together and had left our MA life behind. We made our boy and our girl magically in our CV house and I miss it. I miss the wall we measured our boy on. I wanted to figure a way to take it with us when we moved. but no, sigh.

This was such a walk for me too G,right along with you, so thanks.

At 5:20 PM, Blogger jackie said...

Oh, this post makes me miss CV so much! It's just not fair, but this is a lovely post.


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