On Growing Up

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Yesterday was my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. Truthfully, I wasn't thinking much about the sentiment of the day. I was exhausted from a seminar and a showing, and the last thing I wanted to do was sit in an hour of traffic to get home. But yesterday wasn't about me, and I decided I would put myself aside and celebrate with my parents.

My mom had asked Courtney to take family photos at our house, and by 6 o'clock, we were all standing in the golden light in our blue and white outfits. Courtney told us how to pose, and as we smiled, I started to feel a little bit melancholy. My little brothers, Sam (21) and Jack (16), looked incredibly grown-up and handsome. They both towered over me, and to see them next to each other was something surreal.

My mom and dad took a few photos alone, too. They held hands and Courtney snapped away. These are two of the most beautiful people I know -- inside and out. In my dad's card to my mom, he wrote that he has adored being her best friend and brother-in-Christ. This is gloriously true. My parents spend as much time together as they can, building one another up in the gospel. It is the best example of marriage I've ever seen.

We went to Mon Ami Gabi some time later for oysters, steak-frites, very crisp white wine and a seafood tower. At the table, my parents recollected stories: their elopement, when the kids were born, the night I fell down the stairs and more. As we laughed and remembered, my heart swelled in my chest, more and more until I felt like I was on the verge of tears. Everyone is older now -- my parents, my brothers, me. Our family of five will never be a young family of five again. I'll never be in high school again, coming home to drop my backpack on the floor and watch Gilmore Girls. We'll never fight over silly kid things again, like the rules of trading Halloween candy or who gets to hold my mom's hand in the car.

Things are different, and time has passed. New characters and plot lines have entered our lives, and though I am joyous over certain changes, the idea of growing up makes me feel wistful for my childhood. And what's more, I am fearful of the future. I know that life on Earth is very temporary, and I've also watched friends lose their parents over the past few years -- one of them, just two days ago. I cannot stop thinking about what I would do if that happened to us anytime soon.

After dinner, my brothers walked ahead to the car and I stood outside the restaurant to say goodbye to my parents. That was when the waterworks came. All at once, I was sobbing. "I'm not upset," I blubbered through my tears. "I don't know why I'm crying." But I was, and I couldn't stop. The very last thing I wanted to do was get back in my car, alone, and drive back to the city. I wanted to go home to my Hinsdale house, put on my favorite sweatshirt (a 20+-year-old crewneck with my baby face on it) and stay there forever.

I wish I could remember exactly what my dad said at that moment. It was something along the lines of this: "Melanie, when you feel this way, think about eternal life. Think about how we're going to be together forever, in Heaven, no matter what happens here."

My mom walked me to my car, hugged me tightly, and we made a plan to do something later in the week. I sat in the car for a few extra minutes, trying to calm down and redirect my thoughts. An hour and a half later, I was back at my place, peacefully tucked in bed.

This is what I know: Jesus Christ lives in me, He lives in my mom, He lives in my dad, He lives in Sam, He lives in Jack. We've endured our share of trials, but we have also been gifted a beautiful life together. Change will continue to come. We'll keep growing up. But no matter what, I do know that we are united in one unchanging spirit. That is pretty much the best truth there is.

Adam & Ange

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

On a blustery winter day, I drove to Andersonville for my first meeting with Adam and Ange. I had been introduced to Ange by a past client. At that time, she was a professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (my old stomping grounds), getting ready to move to Chicago to teach at Northwestern. Adam, her doting fiancé, is a musician and teacher. When we met, he was in grad school at U of I. The two made a lovely match.

We spent a few Saturdays house-hunting, but it didn't take long for Adam and Ange to find their home. They chose an elegant vintage condo in a Margate Park high rise. This is one of the most underrated neighborhoods in all of the city. It is a historic area, bound by Sheridan Road to the west and Lake Michigan to the east, and nestled in between Foster Avenue and Lawrence Avenue. The streets are tree-lined and breezy, and the homes (single families, co-op's, converted condos) are masterfully designed, many of them built in the 1920s during Chicago's Jazz Age.

Adam and Ange's place offers the perfect balance of old and new, from the original parquet floors to the completely rehabbed kitchen. They closed on it in April, and just a few weeks later, they got married (!!!). Now, Adam and Ange are all moved in, and I couldn't be happier for them. Congratulations, you two, on a beautiful home and marriage.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kyle was a friend of a friend. I was introduced to him this spring, and we began the condo search shortly thereafter. At our first showing, I remember thinking to myself: This is the chillest guy I've ever met. It was true and remained true throughout the entire process. Kyle has a calming presence about him, confident and unshaken. The moment he walked into this particular condo in Wicker Park, he was ready to make an offer. And so we did.

The place is a quintessential bachelor pad: dark wood accents, custom built-ins, exposed ductwork and a grill-friendly balcony. He found it in February and closed in April. To celebrate, I gave him a bottle of Grey Goose (he's a vodka guy) and Crate & Barrel glassware. I can just picture his home bar now -- surely it's fully stocked with the good stuff.

Congratulations, Kyle.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I remember my first conversation with Dan. Almost one year ago, he called me on a humid August evening. I sat on the floor of my parents' living room, listening to him describe his dream Lakeview condo.

Together, we hustled through a very competitive market until we found the perfect place. It was bright, open and just a few blocks from Wrigley Field. We went under contract, but then, the seller changed his mind and our deal fell apart. Dan continued to check out other places, but always, he had this particular one in mind.

Real estate has a funny way of working out the way it's meant to work out. As it happened, the seller for that Wrigleyville condo came back to us many months later -- four months, to be precise. Dan was under contract by the end of January, and he closed this past March.

The space is pretty spectacular, and I'm overjoyed that everything came together for him. To celebrate, I gave him craft beer glasses and a box of Molly's Cupcakes -- two of Dan's favorite things.

Congratulations, Dan. You waited so long for your home, but you navigated through with unwavering kindness. Two thumbs up for this condo.


Monday, July 10, 2017

A birthday is a funny thing. When I was young, I lived for July 8th. I remember the year I had a cooking party at home in Hinsdale with my girlfriends -- I think I turned 10. Or my 11th birthday at the local pool. Then there was the year I turned 13 and knew about a "surprise" birthday party my parents had planned. I cried for hours leading up to that. As I got older, my birthday became less of a joy-filled event and more of a day to worry over. There was so much expectation and pressure, and almost always, I found that reality never quite lived up to the plans in my mind. I loved and still love celebrating other people's birthdays, but for these selfish reasons, my own made me feel melancholy.

I had mixed feelings about turning 24 this year, and by mixed, I mean I bawled my eyes out on the elliptical machine last Tuesday. I texted my best friend: "I'm having emotional problems." She told me I was not having emotional problems, but rather, I was just upset about my approaching birthday. "Bdays are rough," she wrote. Truer words have never been typed.

Now that the weekend has come and gone, I have nothing but praise. By Friday night, I was on the up and up, allowing God to lead me through the weekend. Here are the highlights:

-- Chipotle burrito bowls & rosé (complete with candles in a pint of Halo Top) with my small group
-- Sweet, thoughtful gifts (My lender got me Chipotle gift cards and my business coach gave me a Drybar gift card -- do they know me or do they know me?)
-- A solo morning walk through the farmer's market on Division Street
-- Brunch with my parents/bff's at Pierrot Gourmet
-- Phone calls and FaceTimes and texts
-- Cards! (I love cards!)
-- Afternoon margaritas with one of my dearest friends
-- The fanciest dinner I've ever had (Andrew took me to Boka in Lincoln Park)
-- Wine at the very posh Pump Room
-- Eating a Sprinkles red velvet cupcake in bed

It was one of the best birthdays on record. I am reminded of such wonderful, loving people in my life, and I'm thinking that's what a birthday is all about.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Michael came to one of my seminars at the end of 2016. He stuck around for a while afterwards, asking me about the market and sharing a bit about his life. Michael works as a patent attorney -- I know plenty of real estate attorneys, but no patent attorneys. I found his field to be exceptionally interesting, and I had lots of questions.

Shortly after the new year, Michael was ready to find his perfect place -- a two-bedroom condo in Wicker Park or Bucktown with a wall big enough for a projector screen (very important). We spent a few weeks on the hunt, driving around in the gloomy January weather and listening to classical music on the radio. When we walked into this Bucktown place, Michael knew he had to have it.

He closed on it in March, just in time for a little bit of spring weather in Chicago. His home is one to remember -- two bedrooms downstairs, an upstairs den with an adjacent rooftop deck, soaring ceilings and a prime location in one of the city's top-selling neighborhoods. Michael was decisive and organized -- it was truly a pleasure to work with him on his purchase.

Congratulations, Michael. I am proud of you.

MSC MAG | June/July 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I'm a few weeks late on this post, but I'd be remiss if I did not share the June/July issue of MSC MAG with you all. This one featured an uplifting story about my first-time buyers (they're closing next week!), a photo of the 30 Under 30 issue of Realtor Magazine, a sweet review from a past client and much more.

As always, I am indebted to my friends -- Courtney, Maddie and Andrew helped me put this issue together on a summer night in June. We drank wine and ate popcorn (killer combo) as we worked.

If you want to get on the MSC MAG mailing list, email me your home address or subscribe to the digital version.


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