Mae, Jazz and I moved into our first house this weekend and, although I'm physically occupied with turning it into a home this week, I can't help but think back fondly about the apartment we just vacated.
In October 2015, I moved out of my childhood home and into a place with my partner and dog. We were so incredibly fortunate to find it. The rent was cheap, the landlords lived next door, and—despite having a no dog policy—Mae was able to convince them to let us keep Jazz there. Neither of us had any real plan for how long we'd stay there, but we would have never guessed 7.5 years.
We were babies then. So young and excited to be out on our own. We didn't mind living in the upper floors with no basement (or breaker) access or sharing the parking area and trash cans with a revolving cast of downstairs neighbors. This was our home base, our little treehouse apartment where we figured our shit out.
While living there we both went through several career changes. Mae paid the rent while I went back to school. When my car stopped running, our apartment's proximity to Mae's job allowed us to get by with a single car for almost 5 years.
The place had its quirks. The cast of wild animals running loose during most summers will certainly stick with me. Living on the second and third floors was occasionally painfully, especially during icy winters or when carrying a front-loading washer and dryer set into the house. Having to fully leave the house to check the mail was a nuisance.
We never asked our landlords for much. I handled a lot of things myself. Sticking doors, leaking sinks, running toilets. I didn't bother asking for help. "No ripples. Let's keep this rent cheap." was the mentality. We were ideal tenants—something Mr. Winters reinforced during our final walkthrough this afternoon.
It was an oddly emotional event, leaving for the last time. 7.5 years. That's longer than anywhere else I've lived but for my first childhood home. That's nearly Jazz' entire lifetime. Moving her was the hardest part for me, but it's a big adjustment for all of us. So much muscle memory tied up in one geographic location.
Although our stuff is gone and our keys have been returned, what's left behind are many years of memories. Some sad, but mostly happy. Indentations mark where our furniture was. Where we slept, celebrated, mourned, worked from home, rescued lost pets, and watched TV. The odd mark or scratch line the wall from carrying camping supplies down from the third-floor spare bedroom we used as a basement. There's noticeable wear on the carpet where my desk sat. I started podcasting, teaching myself to code, and working as a full time developer in that room, filled with my favorite books and knick knacks. We signed our names inside the hidden space behind the laundry hampers where that last bird got in.
I'm very sad to leave that place I was so fond of. I really am. I'm a home owner now and that comes with a whole new type of excitement, but tonight I'm reminiscing about a place that kept us safe and warm for so long—allowing us to save and grow as a family, ready for the next step.