So... I moved last week. But not in the manner I would have liked nor, no offense to George et al, to the kind of place I was hoping. How rushed was this move? I don't have any pictures of the move. If you know me, think about that for a second. I have photos of everything.
I moved to Chicago 4 1/2 years ago, and I've lived in the same place on Kenmore the whole time, with a succession of roommates. The first four years my landlord was a nice, but crazy (the numerology! those gold balls on the fence! the light fixture with "diameter"!), German man named Bernd.
We were on very friendly terms, but every April he was very formal about getting me to sign a lease for the next year. This year, however, he never mentioned it. I wondered what was up, but I didn't bring it up when I saw him, because Shaun and I were looking at buying a place and being lease-less gave us the most flexibility about moving dates, etc. In September we even found a place and signed a contract, but the seller pulled out at the last minute because her Belgian work visa wasn't coming through.
Soon after that we found out why Bernd didn't bother getting a lease from us -- he had sold the building, as well as the two connected buildings (18 apartments altogether) to Venter & Associates. We received a letter from Bernd telling us where to send our rent checks and the building super told us that the sale meant "no change" for anyone. But fairly quickly, the other residents (including that super) began moving out and then workers started showing up and gutting the empty apartments.
At this point it was obvious that we were going to have to move out sooner or later, but we were still looking for the perfect place to move to, and based on our sketchy understanding of Chicago housing law we were pretty sure that even without a lease the landlord would need to give us 30-days notice to move out, so we figured, you know, why not wait until we got that notice and then we'd have 30 days to plan, pack, and move.
Over the last few months, all of the other residents had moved out except for us and two new Romanian guys on the first floor of our building, who were relations or acquaintances (or something) of the landlord, who were acting as caretakers (or something). (Radu and Kris were nice guys, but there was a small language barrier, and little was ever explained to us.) There were a few small problems with the heat (too hot because the system was trying to heat up the other empty, doorless apartments) and the water (only hot water for a few weeks, only cold water for a few days) but everything kept getting fixed. And the work on the other buildings kept stopping because they hadn't secured any permits to do the work, so the police kept stopping by to shut them down (usually leaving an extra-dangerous mess in the back parkign lot.)
On an expedition to the basement of the adjoining building, where the hot water heater is, we did discover a flood of water from, evidently, an over-enthusiastic sledge-hammerer. I began to have paranoid fantasies that the same could happen to our apartment, because they were beginning to gut the third floor apartment above us.
Two weeks ago, on a rather cold Friday night, the water pipes coming into the buildings froze. And since radiator heat needs water, the heat then turned off. Radu told us that the landlord "didn't care" and tried to fix the problem himself with a blowtorch and that heating tape. Over the weekend we tried to contact the landlord ourselves, but only got voicemail at his office. We went out and got jugs of water, and a heater for the living room, and hunkered down (I had numerous kind offers of couches and spare rooms, but I had some sort of stubborn impulse to not be driven from my home.)
On Monday morning we contacted our Alderman, whose staff was very helpful and got right on the case. They were evidently able to contact someone, because Monday night some guys came and began banging around down in the basement. Eventually, late Monday night, the water and then the heat came on. It was still very cold in the apartment, so I huddled under my quilts in the living room and went to bed to the sound of clanking radiator pipes.
When I woke up in the morning, the house was a reasonable temperature, so I was in a good mood until I walked to the back of the apartment and discovered that in Shaun's room a Horrible Thing had happened. For some time there had been a small leak in the radiator in Shaun's room, but since the heat never came on full force for more than an hour or so, he had been living with it by draping a towel over the pipe and occasionally opening the window. When the heat had run continously all night, the steam had also spewed all night. When the steam hit the still-cold air, it had condensed causing it to, in effect, rain in Shaun's room all night. Everything exposed was covered with water and the carpet was soaked.
I called Shaun and we decided that we had to move right away. If we got out by that weekend, we wouldn't be liable for February rent and could legitimately ask for the security deposit back. So instead of 30 days we had 6.
Just to raise the bar a bit, I got food poisoning on Wednesday and spent Thursday sleeping on the couch. I think I worked up the energy to pack one box that day.
- Sledge-hammering my old entertainment center to get it out of the apartment without having to move it all at once
- Throwing bottles of condiments at the wall of the adjoining building (I swear, the ground was already covered with broken glass -- I'm sure we made no difference to the safety of the place)
- Collapsing into sleep on Saturday night and waking up a few hours later with a terrible stutter
- Shaun wearing the skin on his hands down to raw flesh carrying boxes
- Listening to Amy, Dan, Jin, Kate, Homer, Megan, Sean and Shaun each note how much stuff I have
- Shaun's room brcoming more and more swamp-like as the week went on
- The UHaul battery dying on Monday morning, and then starting just fine later in the afternoon
And finish we did. Monday night Dan and I put the last UHaul load into the storage space I'd rented (Dan is the Storage Stacking Master). I have a room in George Eckart's apartment and Shaun is shacking up with Beth. The cats are at Beth's and it's dumb, but I miss them. We're looking to move... somewhere... soonish.