I looked for an apartment on craigslist every day but it was clearly a competitive moving time: every listing was taken within an hour of being posted. Raven and I drove around Pilsen eating carnitas, my free hand on the wheel while she phoned the numbers off of, “For Rent,” signs. We had no luck with that tactic and yet her coaching was ultimately crucial to the success of my move. Raven suggested I take a page from the old school Chicago playbook.
When I finally saw an apartment listing that seemed just right, I jumped on it and offered a little money to see the apartment before anyone else. It was in Bridgeport, next to Pilsen, one of the South Side’s oldest neighborhoods where Mayor Daley’s family hailed from. It’s a studio apartment on the fourth (top) floor above a martial arts dojo on Archer Avenue, one of the original non-North-South-grid-aligned diagonal streets whose history stretches back to the original Native American inhabitants of this land. I brought along a wad of cash and threw down my deposit that same day.