Ah, Apartment 351 — where to begin? I guess a simple ‘thank you’ would be a good place to start!
Thank you for being home to me for these last twelve months — for being the place I woke up in each morning and the safe place I returned to each night. Thank you for being the steady place I, in my simple human way, was able to simply exist. Especially on those days I couldn’t be bothered to do more than that (which turned out to be quite often).
In a city where family and friends and familiarity at first weren’t, you always were. From day one, you were the constant that made me feel like things would be okay here. Thank you for that. And thank you for extending your warmth and welcome to those who came to stay for a bit. You assured them that I would be okay here too.
Within your four walls — in those cozy 588 square feet — you weren’t able to provide all that much. Just a wide-open space that revealed everything at once. The kitchen was in the bedroom, the bedroom in the living room. But it was perfect, and it was plenty for me.
I was thoughtful about how I approached your initial vacancy. I took note of your bare floors and empty walls . . . their varied shades of gray. I didn’t rush to fill them, rather taking my time to dress you only with pieces that sparked something in me — happiness, nostalgia, relief, joy. In the end, it was furniture and art and comforts in neutral tones and shades of blue that were calming and relaxed and reminded me of my California roots.
I was so pleased with how you turned out. I was so proud to show you off.
Within your four walls, I lived twelve months in a series of rhythms and routines.
As I first adjusted to this new time zone, I struggled to find sleep and even more to wake up. But those restless nights and tired mornings didn’t last. I soon found pleasure in being up with you before the sun. And our days together would go something like this:
I’d brew a piping-hot cup of coffee, tidy things up, and pop out on the patio to enjoy my morning joe before it cooled too much. Afterward, I’d move to the bathroom with a little more pep in my step and jump into a five-step beauty routine, followed by a quick wardrobe change — elevated sweats for the weekend, jeans and a decent top for work. On weekdays, I’d return after work and settle in for the evening. I’d make dinner in your slight kitchen and then fix myself on the floor to enjoy it. After all, you were a bit too small for a table and chairs, but I didn’t mind. Then I’d climb into bed, read by the probably too-dim light of my table lamp, and soon doze off just to wake up and do it all again the next day.
It was an existence I genuinely loved.
How many movies and true-crime documentaries I watched – slow weekends I enjoyed – tears I cried – glasses of wine I consumed – moments I shared – smiles I cracked within your four walls I’ll never really know.
But I’ll always remember waking up in your comforting embrace the morning after I felt my first true pangs of homesickness. I’ll remember the sheer and child-like delight of experiencing my first real southern storm from your safety — bursts of lightning like I’d never seen and booms of thunder like I’d never heard. It was enchanting. I’ll remember the immediate feeling of relief that fell over me each time I crossed the threshold of the front door back into you. I’ll remember the depth of the joy I felt sitting out on your patio, recognizing that I had finally done it — that I moved all this way and was at last here.
I’ll remember the independence you helped me attain; the dream you helped me realize. And I’ll always remember that you were the first place in my adult life that truly felt like home.
After experiencing a series of years without direction or little sense of permanence, you helped to create a future that I could actually see for myself. You revealed a path I hadn’t considered before. One that might be worth going down. One that began with me taking the monumental step away from everything I’d known and continues with me moving forward. To a new city. Or a new state. Forward.
It’s been the best, most rewarding and formative twelve months. I could have never imagined how truly amazing they’d be. But they’d certainly be less-than without you as my home base.
So for all of this, I thank you.