This Old Home

I’m listening to Carla Bruni radio on Pandora. It’s a mix of Italian cafe music and other Euro-dinner music. I’m making chicken parmigiana with pappardelle and green beans. I’m drinking Villa Antinori Chianti. I am home!

As many of you know my wife Christiana and I moved from our South Loop apartment to a North side two-flat about a month ago. The chaos of our move was then trumped by other life circumstances which remind one that the small stuff is just small stuff. The road to this night has been filled with many forks and and turns, but on this night I am in a virtual Italy and I couldn’t feel more content. On other nights in the last month we have been in a virtual Paris either at home with roasted chicken or on a night out at Paris Club like last night. We have had breakfast just this morning in a virtual Sweden despite the slow service. We have watched hockey playoff games with friends. We have eaten pizza while grieving with the support of overnight guests that remind us that life goes on. We have hosted Easter brunch even if it was without the physical presence of the catalyst in that celebration my dear friend Richard.

All that being said this new home of ours keeps revealing its possibilities and it continues to remind us exactly why it was placed in our path as a place to reside for this next chapter of our lives both individually and collectively. It is a rare gift and I can’t help but think we have only begun to tap the lessons we will learn here…if we remain willing students.

One of the hardest parts of accepting this move was that I was uprooting myself from a neighborhood I had lived in for almost a quarter of a century. On an easy day it was stressful for me and on a bad day it was panic attack inducing. How lucky am I to have reached this point of contentment in one short month to the day?

This is an old home. It has a heart. It has a history. And it has a spirit that I can’t even fully recognize or describe yet. To say it is haunted wouldn’t do it justice and would open both the home and me up to question. But that being said I still have no choice to acknowledge here for the first time in writing that we are sharing our living space with way more energy than is happening only on this day, only in this month and only in this year of 2014.

When we moved in we found out that the building was built about 100 years ago. There are three lots that were owned by three brothers. Two of the brothers built duplexes on the outer lots but before the third brother could build his home in the middle the Great unnamed-6Depression hit and that building was never built. That lot still sits vacant as our side yard and is a testament to how much history effects the best laid plans. It is now going to be our garden and our refuge for summer parties. Our home remained in the same family for its entire history until about two years ago when the last generation of the Ciccone family passed away. For many years a brother and sister neither of whom ever married lived upstairs and downstairs from each other for their older years after being born in the home some eighty years ago. Their presence is still very much felt here and we can’t help but think that they are happy that we have moved in and plan on making it the most important chapter yet to date in our lives.

unnamed-7When I sit in the dining room and listen to music on my grandparent’s circa 1950’s Blaupunkt Barcelona tube radio I can imagine a family that lived here pre-television days and listened to mysteries and comedies on a similar radio. When I look at the now bricked off chimney I can imagine a family gathered around the fire reading and enjoying the heat of a wood burning energy center. Even the old stove which is circa 1970 is way better than the modern type I had at our last home. From what I understand the brother lived upstairs in the unit we are in now and almost never cooked. He would likely eat downstairs with his sister and his mother. Even the People’s Gas technician that hooked up our service was stunned that unnamed-9our 45 year old Caloric brand double oven was in damn near mint condition. The owners offered to replace it if it was too old but not only could I not imagine throwing out something so unique but it is truly the best cooking device I have ever had the privilege of using in my entire life. It makes food taste even better than I could prepare which in my world is something that I never could have imagined after years of traditional culinary training!

unnamed-11The flowers grow faster here. The bed feels softer here. Nights at home seem more peaceful here. There is a lightness of being that I don’t know that I have ever really felt in my 49 years this time around. Did I mention that when I go into the basement to do laundry that I get a tingling up and down my entire spine and the hairs on my arms stand on end? I’m not sure if that’s the spirit of a family that has passed the torch to us and is content. I don’t know if it’s a portal to my dear friend Richard’s presence or even my long deceased father. I just know that I feel the power of God and the Universe in a way that don’t think I have ever had the joy of knowing.

How grateful am I? So grateful! A month ago I was scared and stressed. Tonight I’m in 1940’s Florence. Or maybe 1920’s Paris? Or maybe 1960’s Stockholm? Who knows where I will be tomorrow? Maybe I’m just in 2014 Chicago and the doorway is open to the honor the past and explore the future. Whatever the case is I know I’m home…



About Jim Herbert

I've been wanting to write my whole life. By age 45 it had amounted to nothing more than a storage locker of half full journals and a lot of unfulfilled dreams. Then Paris in the fall of 2011 happened. It was the catalyst I needed to consistently blog. At first I had a hard time hitting the publish button, but now two blog sites and over 300 posts later I'm hitting my stride. I'm also a budding speech writer. I've recently been heavily involved in the Chicago Storytelling scene and have also won the Chicago Toastmasters Area 66 International Speech Contest. Check out our website at for more details about the amazing things that are happening in my life. A book or two are nearing completion. With another Paris trip on tap for Easter of 2015 I can only imagine that there are Infinite Possibilities on the horizon!!!
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One Response to This Old Home

  1. Diane Onixt says:

    As usual ,your writing never ceases to amaze me. I actually felt your peace as I ended your blog.Love to you both, Diane

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