Today, I dropped off the keys to the apartment and paid the final rent. It is finished, as they say. As I rode the subway to the management office, I thought about my time in the apartment. Warning: this is very sentimental. I always get like this when I close a door.
When I first moved in, the dishwasher broke (which was one of the reasons that I chose the apartment in the first place). Then, the fridge broke. It was December, so I kept my perishables in plastic bags on the fire escape. That meant that if I wanted salad dressing, or garlic, or veggie burgers, I had to go into the bedroom, open the window, get the correct plastic bag, brush off the snow and soot, bring it to the kitchen, root around for what I needed, and put it back. It was such a pain. But I did it.
Over the course of the first year I lived there, I got used to living in Manhattan -- the noise, the dirty air, the subway, walking through slush to get to work all winter. But more importantly, I got used to living alone, and being alone. I learned to handle things like the broken refrigerator, on my own. I also learned to handle sadness, and time on my hands, and loneliness. I learned to be independent. Not to say I didn't have anyone to lean on, because I did. I had Kathy, and a friend or two, and my sister. But at the end of the day, I just had me (well, and Bella the cat).
As my relationship with Kathy progressed, I spent more and more time with her, and more and more time in the suburbs and out of Manhattan. I was not sad about that. Even though I got used to it, I really didn't much like living in the city. Through this period, the apartment was a respite, a place away from kids and chores and grownup-ness. We went there on weekends, and nights when we did not have the kids with us. Eventually, though, the apartment became a drain on our energy instead of a place to renew it, and it was time to let it go. So we did. But the independence that I learned when I lived there was something I could carry with me the last two years that I've been with Kathy, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. It's a tool I can pull out of my pack as we move forward. I can do it on my own. I'm grateful, though, that I don't have to.
This is what the apartment looks like now, for one more day, at least, until the next people come in:
It looks exactly the same as it did when I moved in, with one exception. This.
That's the fridge that they replaced the broken one with. When I was all done packing and the movers had left, I looked around and that sticky note was all that was left. I decided to leave it there. Those sticky notes were sent to me in a care package from and old and dear friend when I first moved in. So now, the apartment is basically the same as when I moved in, but with a little extra love stuck in there. Goodbye, apartment in the city.