TBT: Chi-town, mid-90s

I've been working on a story recently that centers around a waitress in Chicago and so have been thinking nostalgically of those days, though I have not gone so far as to revisit my journals from that time, because I'm certain they would be full of depressing anecdotes; probably me obsessing over some guy whose name I no longer remember. What I do recall about Chicago is that the winters were dastardly cold, Lake Michigan was beautiful, they had great thrift stores, I was incredibly lonely most of the time, and I had a lot of really funny and talented friends. Here's Hancock Tower (thanks, Emily!). I don't think I ever went up in it and there were also entire neighborhoods in Chicago that I never visited.

My first apartment was a garden apartment in the Belmont area--pretty close to Wrigley Field and Gingerman Tavern. The apartment itself was okay, though it had a mushroom-y smell and clanking radiators. Below is my cat on the left (Gretel) and my roommate's cat on the left. I've forgotten his name, but they didn't get along.

I lived with a very soft-spoken girl named Tara, who was a social worker I met through the "looking for roommates" section of The Reader. Tara didn't shave her legs or wear make-up , was the first real live person I'd ever met who wore Birkenstocks and socks, and was super passive aggressive (even more so than me). She smoked one cigarette a day and didn't wear make-up. I remember that I would tell her stories about my dating life and she would just laugh and laugh, even though I wasn't trying to be funny and it hurt my feelings. We painted the entire living room dark purple and lime green, and when it came time to move out (she was going to Guatemala for a year), she said that she was just too tired to repaint it.  For the record, I also was a bad roommate, as I brought a parade of bartenders and waiters through the house that first year.

Below is my second roommate, who I also found through The Reader. Her name was Nadine, and she lived on a really cute street with metal giraffes on one end. I can't think of the name of the street just now. I only lived there for nine months before the lease was up and she told me she had decided to live alone. I didn't really like her that much either because she had an annoying boyfriend who came over a lot and smoked pot and the two of them would laugh and watch TV all night long in the living room while he farted every ten minutes and she giggled. But she did have an interesting family--a schizophrenic dad who called her up one time and said, "Oh, I just saw your head in the refrigerator today and thought I'd give you a call."

This was my room in the second apartment. I was sold on the fact that I would have my own bathroom and that the place had brick walls and a little balcony. And also that it wasn't five feet below sea level like my first place. Below is representation of my art aesthetic at the time, which includes my college roommates old robe refashioned into a curtain, "The Kiss" poster by Gustav Klimt, owned by 90% of female college graduates, and a painting that I repainted with the same house paint we used on the walls in the previous apartment. I still have that one in a frame. It and its companion has followed me everywhere.

Then, lastly, below is my only serious boyfriend in Chicago. He was ten years older than me, from Boston, and a bartender at a theme restaurant. He ran ten miles every day and drank Absolut vodka every night. We broke up because of his drinking. He was also super Italian and smart and a writer. The picture below is him after finishing a marathon---it might have been the Chicago marathon (you have to at least finish in a certain time a marathon before you qualify to run the Boston marathon).  I don't know what happened to him. I think he struggled with depression and, if I remember correctly, his dad committed suicide when he was a kid.

Oh, no. I just Googled him and discovered that he died five years ago. I don't know what happened:

DiMINO, Mark David 49, died June 8, 2009. An avid reader, writer and runner, he graduated from Boston College High School in 1978 and was part of the State Championship Football team. He completed the Boston Marathon in under 2½ hours. He recently worked as a Faculty Assistant at Harvard University. He is preceded in death by his mother Teresa DiMino and his grandparents Anna and Ralph LaCambria. Survived by his siblings, Maria DiMino (Jim) and Michael DiMino (Joni), his Aunt Camille and John Oliver, his godmother Evelyn LaCascia and his yellow lab Harry. Uncle to Teresa, Elena, Michael and John. Beloved friend of Mary and Tim Green. Visitation in The Robert J. Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home, 1803 Centre St., WEST ROXBURY, on Saturday, June 20th from 9-10:30am, followed by a graveside service and interment at St. Mary's Episcopal Church Cemetery, 258 Concord Street, Newton Lower Falls at 11am. 

 I can't find out anything else about what happened to him and it's probably best if I don't. I hate that I found this.


Emilie LaRosa said…
I'm pretty sure that's the Hancock Tower, not the Sears/Willis Tower.

Sincerely, Emilie "fact-checker" LaRosa

p.s. I'm enjoying your blog.