I’ve lived in a couple of homes and many apartments in lo these many years, but there’s one place that’s been a constant in my life through almost the entirety of my 30s.
Sometime in late 2006 or early 2007, I moved in with Mary Ann Clark, a friend from graduate school whose roommate had just moved on to another place. I had coveted this huge two bedroom, two bath with cheap rent for almost an entire year and was stoked to be able to take up the master bedroom. When Mary Ann decided to move out about six years ago, Naphtali Wall took up her spot. When Naphtali Wall decided to go and marry Chris Roberts, I moved out and they stayed. But I only moved half a block away so I’ve spent a whole lot of time in my old apartment since then.
Today, my friends the Robertses moved into a new home and out of the apartment that I once lived in and loved. This apartment has been continuously occupied since 1999, though our friend group’s memories of it only go back to 2006. When the Robertses told me that they were moving into a new place, I actually cried a little. To be fair, Naph did too.
Known affectionately to some who live in the building as “the 536”, apartment 104 has seen it’s fair share of amazing people and memories over the past decade. It has played host to birthday parties – my 32nd, 33rd, 34th and 35th and Naphtali’s 29th…or was it 30th? It has been the place that has welcomed Naphtali’s boys into the world. It has seen friendships formed and solidified through church small groups and Christmas cookie making parties where there was much female bonding over my Grandfather’s gingersnap recipe that calls for rolling the dough into balls and then sugaring those balls. (Sorry Grandpa. Everyone has a 12 year old on the inside.)
These walls have heard some of the deepest secrets held by women who chose to reveal themselves in that space for the first time. 536-104 has seen a couple come together (Chris and Naphtali), a bride-to-be celebrated (Sara) and babies born and raised (Josh and Eli). It was host to a plethora of movie nights, including a fair food themed Xanadu extravaganza and game nights and plain old hang out times. It has been a place of refuge for me while dealing with foster kids who needed to get out of my little space. It has been a place of celebration, violent tears and once, the sound of an accordion.
It might be a random coincidence that as I’m turning 40 and feel like I’m moving into a whole new life space, the apartment I loved will no longer be occupied by people who have meaning in my life. It might be coincidence that the new place Chris and Naphtali moved into today is the place where people will gather in 8 days to celebrate the beginning of my new decade. In reality, their move has nothing to do with me but some of my favorite things in life are the gifts of “random” events that are actually symbolically significant.
I left a lot of ghosts behind in that apartment. By the time I moved out, I was a much freer woman than the one who moved in, and much of that freedom arose out of events that took place and relationships that were formed while I lived there. When I moved out, I was afraid that I would miss it, and I did. But five years later, I’m a much freer woman than the one that moved out.
Life is about moving forward. It’s about moving out of the places that used to hold us but don’t have room for us anymore.
I think if the walls of 536-104 could talk, they’d tell us that our band of misfits has had a pretty great run these last ten years. I think they’d tell us they’ll remember us. I think they’d thank us for the good times and raise a glass as they wish us well and send us on our way to find new spaces in which to make our memories.