Two years ago, I dragged all of my stuff from an apartment on the other side of this complex. I literally put my mattress on my head and marched down the parking lot. I threw it up on the deck of a new unit, a one-bedroom. I looked at that little mattress poised on the dirty deck it should not be touching. I looked at the trees surrounding the little space.
I walked in. There was more room than I needed. I put my magnets on the fridge. I arranged my stuffed animals. I was free of my awful roommates. I was free of the mold that was all over my Chicago abodes. It was quiet.
But most of all, it was where Alex and I would first live together.
When we met in 2010, he lived an hour and a half with a crazy dude who threatened to throw him off the balcony a few times. I accidentally dirtied his new dishtowels once, and it ended with me huddled in Alex's bunk crying. Dishtowels.
Then Alex moved to law school in KC. That meant more roommates, more spaces full of mold and no heat. I started a job in Omaha and moved in with two people, one who was actually paying rent. The next three years was full of being told what to do, what not to touch, getting trapped in my room, and one time "accidentally" hit.
So now I dragged my mattress off the porch and threw it in the big bedroom. Eight weeks later, Alex would graduate and move in with me.
We put whatever the hell we wanted on the walls. We turned the dining room into a writing room. We made a shrine for my grandmother above the fireplace. We pinned up our tapestry from 2010 on the main wall, next to a signed poster of Comic Book Men. And then we went to Disney World for the first time.
Usually it's sad to come home from a trip, but that time, when we got back, we opened the door and I smiled. "This is our space," I thought.
We have lived here for two years. It was here where I screwed up my leg and ended up spending time in a chair, crutches, braces, PT, everything. It was here I had my welcome phone call with Nancy Holder and signed up for Stonecoast. It's here where I heard that my friend had died, and in a fit of tears, Alex and I built a fort in their memory in the living room.
It was here where I wrote my short stories and my book. I discovered Hamilton over at the dining table. I learned how to cook really good cheeseburgers in the kitchen with my mother.
It's also where I decided to quit my day job. This is the couch where I have written all of these blog entries (except for the ones I wrote from out of the country). This is where I bought my tickets for Europe.
We planned our wedding from all over this apartment, pacing back and forth. We put together our reception decorations on the floor in front of the new TV. It's where we returned after we got married. It's where I slammed the door and rushed off as soon as it got hard. And it's where we both returned when we realized we couldn't go rushing off anymore.
It's where we fell in love. Like really fell in love. Where he realized how cluttered I am, how messy I am. Where I discovered that if things weren't clean, he would get grumpy. It's where we argued over whether or not to spend that much for a shredder, and I finally caved. It's where we were cased by some burglars and we spent way more for a safe.
I rubbed his back when he got scared. He held me when I got sad. We held each other when things got uncertain.
And it's where I said, "Do you want to get a house?"
In three weeks, we will move from here. Our closing date is May 20th. In a month, this place will be a memory. Just another place I lived. I'll take pictures, just like all of the other places I've lived. The setting I've known as my constant will slip away to history. And hopefully, by getting a house, we will have someplace a little more permanent. A little more ours.
In the last ten years, I've lived at eight different addresses. He's lived at six. It's time to have walls that belong to us.
One more thought.
This is the last little thread I have to my old life. This is where I was a teacher. This is where I graded papers. This is where I got up at six in the morning to get to work by seven. I still have permission slips for field trips I've forgotten about.
I'll shed that skin when I step into the new home. My life will be a new chapter, of being married and being a writer.
Here's to new adventures.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.