Friday, November 19, 2010

moving in, the final chapter

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.

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