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  • Writer's pictureoriane

Summer, at last.

The urban gardens are in full bloom and the trees blanket cozy neighborhood streets with a dense canopy of green. Each night, our block is filled with the sounds of laughter every as kids race back and forth on their rollerblades or scooters. Summer has arrived, and everyone seems to be just a little happier, a little nicer, a little friendlier these days.

It's a lovely picture to paint, and for a second it's easy to forget what the last 3 months have been like.

2020. A year so full of big plans and promise. I don't think there was a soul out there that didnt expect big things out of "the roaring 20s". Then March hit, and though we started to see the effects of Covid 19 a little later than other parts of the US Chicago had no cloak immunity. Chris' office closed its doors and his company converted to work from home status. Our dining room table was converted to a home office as the stock market tanked. On March 13th, a "stay at home" order was officially declared in the state of Illinois and a veil of anxiety fell over the city.

In an effort to keep the community safe, even the medical practice I've managed since its opening in March 2015, closed its doors to all non-urgent patient care. At first, we were able to keep staff employed with the hope of returning to clinic swiftly, but with no income from patient visits and the ordinance extended weekly, we were forced to make difficult decisions.

On a day I will never forget, the eve of our 5 year anniversary, I spent the afternoon making calls announcing inevitable layoffs.

For 11 long weeks life seemed to blur by, each day longer than the next. With only each other and the dogs for company, Chris and I filled our evenings by making cocktails and cheese boards (so many cheese boards, god lord my poor waistline), finally learning a little bit about wine (something my French mother is very proud of) and taking lots of long walks through the streets of our neighborhood--searching for signs of spring.

Signs of the "new normal".

In a lot of ways, those weeks cooped up at home together were nice. Though there were certainly moments spent pacing our 850 sq ft apartment, there were many many times where I felt incredibly blessed by our current situation. With a shit storm right outside our doors, we stayed pretty insulted. I felt so fortunate we delayed our renovation plans an extra year and still had the luxury of living cheaply in just that small apartment with the mortgage on Melrose mostly covered by tenants. As you can imagine, our renovation timeline was dead in the water during quarantine. With a pending site visit by both structural and mechanical engineers needed before we could finalize the construction documents our July timeline seemed an impossibility.

At times, this new world-one in which there are no plans to be made- was actually a nice change of pace for two people who "Can't stop. Won't stop."

Then, June hit.

And while those kids I mentioned are playing in the streets wearing masks, their parents sitting on their stoops shouting at their neighbors from a socially safe distance of 6 feet, Chicago finally seems to be coming up for air. A new normal is slowly being established.

Costumed in PPE, the structural and mechanical engineers took a visit out to Melrose and a few days later their drawings were in hand-reviewed via "Zoom" conference call. Just a couple of Fridays later we had our final "design development" meeting with Ed, our architect and plans to release the construction documents for proposals are set for July 10th.

With our one year at Melrose just around the corner, this project finally seems to be back on track.

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