When you're single, married people are always asking you when you think you'll get married. When do you think he'll propose? Are you bummed you're not married yet? What kind of wedding do you want to if he proposes tomorrow?
The list of questions is endless, right down to china patterns and venues. It's like the married-folk have joined a little club and they're dying to see your membership application.
Once initiated into the club, you are immediately privy to the gruesome details of the dysfunctional inner-workings of these marriages over a nice wine-soaked round of Bunko or whatever those wacky wives clubs are doing to entertain themselves these days. You almost feel the urge to make things up about your husband to fit in, but think better of it and just chip in a few cents about how he doesn't pick up his socks or wet towels. That ass!
The same holds true for the couples with kiddos. Once you have a baby, you can't wait for your friends to reproduce. Mostly because having a newborn pretty much sucks and misery truly loves company. However, you direct your discussions to sweet baby gear and dazzle them with pictures of your peanut sleeping or posed in other similarly peaceful states. You only divulge the horrors of parenthood - no sleep, diaper blow outs, the exorbitant cost of the sweet baby gear, ear infections, bad babysitters, sore boobs, and the like once your friend is about to give birth. Ha ha - SUCKAS!
I had no idea that more of these clubs existed, related to the stages of life through which we must matriculate to feel successful, but aren't nearly as glamorous as they first appear. However, I am on to the next club, not necessarily in the same order as everyone else - the houseowner club. I have been a homeowner for some time, just not a houseowner. HUGE difference. And, everyone else who was rah-rahing for me to buy the house is now referring to it as a "lifetime love-hate relationship". FAN-TAS-TIC.
1) In a high-rise in the city, we can live twenty feet from twenty people for ten years and not know ANY of their names. Sure, I vaguely know three-packs-a-day on the pool deck guy, weird helmet guy, pot-smoking sorority girls know as the besties, the association president el presidente, ambiguously gay dude, the woman who can never remember how old Luella is and whether she is a she or a he but asks every single time we're in the elevator, lawyer guy, the triathlete, Auntie Social and the woman who furiously tries to manually close the elevator door before you can shut your mailbox and dash there yourself. Worth mentioning - the couple whose children addressed everyone as "hi people" who once lived at the end of the hall.
In the burbs, I am on the Highland Park Ladies email list, currently watering the neighbor's plants and rearranging their trash cans while on vacation and have been asked several times via snail mail to "Save the Children" by a specific individual. What the fuss? I so frequently stand at the sidewalk in front of my house to make polite conversation that I am ready to put a bench right at the foot of the driveway. And, I've fielded so many inquiries related to our renovation that I am considering holding an open house to take care of multiple requests to see things like my new soapstone countertops all in one fell swoop.
2) City = Drive some, walk everywhere else. Burbs = Walk some, drive daily. We need a second car and that absolutely blows.
3) Peapod needs some advance notice to schedule a grocery delivery to the burbs. Whereas I can schedule at the last minute in the city. Many people have tried to convince me that grocery shopping is relaxing and fun and wonderful. I CANNOT STAND grocery shopping anywhere other than the internet - Peapod to be specific. Otherwise, I need to go to Whole Foods for much of the order, then Sunset for the few other things I can't get at Whole Foods (like preggo waffles and the WW frozen Quesadillas to which I am addicted and will rarely admit to eating) and then to the specialty market for the things I need that are at Whole Foods but way more expensive than they should be and as a matter of principle, I can't buy them there. I can get everything I need from Peapod, while I track my spend and avoid getting sidetracked by impulse purchases. I spend no less than $100 on wine, cheese and tapenade every time simply walking through the doors of Whole Paycheck. Boo.
4) City = Hailing a taxi. Burbs = Calling the night before for a taxi. There are multiple reasons Ryan and I are both having a tough time with this one. But the most important factor is that we like to do things at the last minute.
5) We now live very far from Midway, which means no more Southwest. I hate O'Hare, hate getting to and from O'Hare, I despise all airlines EXCEPT Southwest. I need a game plan here because this just isn't working for me. Plus, if you take a city cab home from the airport, the credit card authorization is out of range. It's like I live on a farm or something. Last night, the driver who brought me home from O'Hare thought I was leading him somewhere to be mugged or killed. In the city, the opposite is generally true.
6) We suddenly have a roof, yard and basement to worry about. In the city, we had a 24 hour doorperson and maintenance crew. We never bothered with those things considered "common elements". SIGH. This is the main issue that no one mentioned until after we bought a free-standing house. "You'll spend so much money every year on stuff you won't even notice - new roof, new furnace blah blah blah." The dryer broke the other day and we bought a new set of front-loaders. Super expensive pain in the ass is all I can say.
7) I can hear bugs instead of the 22 bus. I am rattled by the table-saw hum of the mating cicadas in my yard. I would pay someone fifty bucks to record the lilting sounds of Clark and Fullerton at dusk. "Next stop - Clark and Belden ... Clark and Belden. Psshhht. Vroom." Oh I do miss it something awful. That, and the bright lights of the skyline to guide me to the potty three times each pregnant night. Now, it's pitch black and I use my right leg like walking cane for the blind. My shins look like half-eaten corn cobs - bruises and bug bites. Gorgeous.
There are upsides.
1) Lei loves her yard - especially the swing set. Luella does too. In fact, she one self-assured pooch these days. It's as though she can't believe we won the lottery and have an actual yard! A YARD! I told her that I'd like to see the carcases of ten fallen voles, lined up on the patio by the end of the week. She agreed to give it a shot.
2) We can walk to the lake, Ravinia, the train and downtown HP. With this comes the ability to walk to a restaurant, have a few cocktails and not have to drive home. That is a major plus where suburbs are concerned.
3) The guest parking situation has improved immensely. In the city, you fend for yourself and probably should have taken a cab. We do have parking - a definite plus - although not a huge one in my opinion. Even traffic wasn't much of an issue for me, just for those visiting from out of town.
I'm confident more upsides will emerge by Halloween - Halloween itself likely being one of them. I just need to revisit this list regularly and stay positive, even in the face of pregnancy, renovations, out-of-commission second bathrooms and a brand new, defective, front-loading washing machine. The washing machine was a bitter pill. Tomorrow is a brand new day.