As I took one long, last look at the 700 square footed space I’d called home for the last two years, and descended down the long, miserable four flights of stairs I’d come accustomed to dreading each day, a feeling of complete liberation washed over me in a way that I can’t say I’ve experienced yet before.
While my first apartment was everything it needed to be, (and nothing more), leaving it was a cathartic experience, in the most positive of ways.
That apartment was where I moved to Brooklyn, with only $376 in my Bank of America account, a very, very expensive Digital Journalism degree, and 3 or 4 boxes of Forever 21 and H&M clothing.
It was where I worked as a waitress, with an unpaid internship, for five months, wearing tight-fitting white button downs and pouring wine for privileged Manhattanites in the Mercer hotel and crying to my then-boyfriend after an average of three glasses of wine per night, as I tried to sleep in my fourth-floor walkup bedroom without any A.C. in the heat of a New York Summer.
It was where I threw three consecutive glasses of wine at the wall next to his head during a bad argument, and sobbed on the floor as he swept up the glass silently.
It was where I laid in my bed for days on end, crying softly and then furiously on and off after my longtime college boyfriend told me I wasn’t “the one”.
It was where I paced the small living room day-in and day-out during phone interviews, and while waiting for callbacks about jobs in media agencies.
It was where I, stoned out of my mind and sitting on my toilet, received the call from my now-boss at L’Oreal telling me I’d gotten the job as a Social Media Manager.
It was where I transitioned into adulthood, first slowly and comfortably, and then abruptly and almost violently, receiving my 401K information in my small and stuffed mailbox, and purging my vanity of drugstore-brand anything.
It was where I’d woken up next to Mr. Wrongs, and on the wrong side of the bed.
It was where I’d scrub and clean and shine tirelessly, hoping to ease my anxiety and restlessness and dissatisfaction by perfecting the small space that ultimately would never feel like home.
It was where I’d gotten my footing in this city, by making frequent missteps.
It was where I nursed hangovers, of both the alcohol abuse and emotional abuse varietal, as I drunkenly attempted to navigate my heartbreak and first experiences at singlehood by waking up in all the wrong places.
It was where I felt satisfied, at times, drinking coffee and smiling smugly thinking about the incredible life I’ve been able to build here with my very own, freshly manicured hands..
It was where I felt anxious and angry other times, wondering why this particular thing wasn’t working out for me, or why I’d spent three nights this week Ubering home in the morning, instead of at night.
It was where I’d grappled, sometimes playfully and casually and other times existentially and dramatically, with identity, and whether or not this concept of “content” should continue to propel me into spirals of erratic or inappropriate behavior.
Yes- while it never felt home-y in the conventional sense, like having magazines in the bathroom, or candles in the living space, this apartment was “home” to a lot for me. It was home to my transition, and home to my growth. It was home to my heartbreak and home to my healing.
Leaving the apartment felt like such a catharsis because I am leaving behind who I was when I entered New York, and leaving it who I am thrilled and excited to be now.
This time, well-paid movers are lugging my boxes of now name-brand clothing out of my small space, and hauling them up the half-flight of stairs and into my newly renovated, key-PIN required, 1100 square-foot pad.
As I inhaled, for the last time, the smell of an old building, I exhaled, also for the last time, the dissatisfaction of my old life.