Last year I moved into my first apartment. I had lived home for all of my 20’s and in moving out was fulfilling a prophecy I set for myself when I was 18: Before marriage or any kind of serious relationship, I would live on my own, financially independent, and single but open to love’s possibilities.
I noticed that many of the things I wanted for my 20’s are now emerging in my 30’s. My sense of direction and intuitive feelings are stronger and surer than ever.
July marked 1 year in my tiny apartment and I took the time to appreciate the process my little corner of the world has under gone in the last year.
A tiny (500 sq ft-ish?), 3rd floor apartment with a fire escape has become a cozy haven of my collected life. In the year since moving in, I have thrown things away once thought too precious to lose, moved things around, all the time playing with the space I had. It was a great lesson in gratitude, looking around and seeing not things, but people I associated with them.
I see my friend Kim and my family members who helped me move in that first day. I see Jonathan, who helped me carry my couch up the two flights of stairs, who patiently pivoted and maneuvered it down the narrow hallway and through my slender door frame. I see his sister, my best friend, Kai, in my measuring cups, my tea wreath, the shark shaped bottle opener, and of course in the photos that adorn the walls. My generous parents are apparent throughout as well, in my pots and pans, in my assembled furniture. I especially see my dad in my air conditioner, that he brought from home and carried up the stairs for me during the summer months so I wouldn’t be uncomfortable in the heat. I would not have made it through my first year without their love, and don’t know what to do with all the gratitude I feel toward them. It leaves me at a complete loss to do anything except accept their love and try to give it back to them as much as I can.
I look around and see the various lovely memories of gifts and moments, and I am filled with a sense of peace. After all, that’s what home should be
There’s also some nights I would rather forget. Nights of existential thoughts, loneliness, wanting, feelings of inadequacy, and emptiness. There were tears on those nights and headaches the next morning. Gratefully, those nights were few and far between.
I ultimately look back on a year of joy with people entering my doorway and leaving me with lovely memories and imprinting my space with their individual good vibes. I wouldn’t change anything, lest I obscure the lessons that have been received.
My mind has changed many times over the course of the year and I’ve given in to it’s special fluidity; sometimes preferring the couch here or there, moving my bed to this wall instead of that one. Creativity flourished as I figured out ways to utilize the space, making it seem more open and welcoming and less cluttered. A sense of pride established itself with every creative solution I found, in anything from hanging a light to designing the space. It’s still a continuing process that brings me joy with each new adjustment.
More than anything is the feeling of independence that I treasure in this experience. Coming home to just myself is something I always felt was important; to get good with being alone before coming home to someone else. Learning to meet one’s needs and care for oneself can later play a greater role in meeting the needs of another, and caring for them.
As my favorite idol has always said, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else, CAN I GET AN AMEN?” – RuPaul.
And so, as I enter the second year of this lease, I take into account all that has transpired with a firm belief that this year will be better than the last, and that the goals I have set for myself will blossom into beautiful fruition. To quote the beloved Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Look at where you are, look at where you started.”
This life is quite enough.