I am writing this post on the evening before my last day living in Austin, Texas. The place where I have lived for the past 9 years. The place where I found my roots, my people, and my sense of belonging. For many, the occasion of moving may be stressful, annoying, off-putting, or much-needed.. like “Thank god I’m escaping from this hell-hole.” And at different points, it has been all of these things for me as well. But as I sit on my couch, the last piece of furniture that remains unclaimed by others, I am hit by the movie reel of moments lived within these walls.
This was the first space I moved into alone. No roommates, no significant other to share space with… just me, and my 6-week-old puppy, Poppy. We moved into this space a week before I began orientation for my new career as an elementary music teacher. I was unsure, terrified, excited, and dealing with a whopping case of imposter syndrome… but we came into this space and made it our own. The walls and ceiling were cracked and peeling, the floorboards occasionally popped up with a mind of their own… but I grew to love this place. What made me love this place was not the furniture I purchased, built with friends, and lived with, nor the location or size of the place… but the memories I made within it.
My first standout memory of this apartment happened once my friends left. After helping me move everything in, building furniture while drinking beer and coffee, going out to eat… I returned here, just me and my dog. I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility watching her sniff every corner and try to eat literally everything. The song “Amsterdam” by Gregory Alan Isakov came on my Spotify shuffle station and I broke down crying with amazement over the fact that I had somehow graduated college, gained a career, gotten a dog, and moved into a place all by myself within 3 months. Since that moment, countless beautiful moments have graced these 775 square feet. I gained beautiful, lasting friendships with people that came over often to play games, share stories, cry, laugh, play music, and dream. I test-drove relationships within these walls and experienced a tremendous amount of pain, sadness, and regret until one day, the love of my life walked through the door to meet Poppy and stayed forever. This was the first home we shared together… the place within which the first several chapters of our story was written. Mike moved in when the pandemic began, and it was honestly the best few months I could have ever asked for. We spent our time making dream catchers, candles, gourmet meals, and forts that we played video games in. We held each other during moments of fear and sadness, and stitched our stories together in an enduring way that held patience, understanding, compromise, and fierce love.
So all of these past words I’ve written lead me to this one main point: I am so grateful for this foundationally screwed, semi-falling into the Earth apartment. And I’m going to share with you the words that I just sobbed out loud to my apartment walls after 2 glasses of wine.
Thank you to the place that holds all my deepest memories. Thank you to the walls that witnessed the depth of my sorrow, the weight of my grief, and the breadth of my joy. Thank you to the bathroom that saw too many drunken nights throwing up, or moments spent trying to pull myself together with my reflection, or dance parties in the shower. Thank you to the bedroom that watched me dream almost every night for the past 5 years. That heard dozens of FaceTimes with friends in other states that ended in tipsy goodbyes. That witnessed failed relationships and loves until the right one came along, claimed a spot on the right side of the room, and stayed. Thank you to the kitchen where I opened many celebratory bottles of wine to enjoy with friends. Where Mike and I made dozens of “taco nights.” Where I would get pissed off at being snuggled while trying to cook only to laugh about it later with a full heart. Where we sang “Crocodile Rock” at the top of our lungs while making homemade ramen. Thank you to the living room where each of my closest friends have sat. Where we did drunken Karaoke nights and played Boomwhackers at 3:00 in the morning (much to my neighbors dismay). Where we did full moon rituals and shared our fears and insecurities, only to be so deeply embraced and understood. Where we played Quiplash and laughed so hard I actually peed my pants (just the one time though). Where I broke down my walls and learned to love and trust the people who love and trust me.
Thank you to the walls that witnessed me falling in love with myself. When I moved in here, I was a lost, freaked out, confused 22 year-old with a lot of wrong ideas about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. But this space allowed me the safety to ask questions, cry at the answers, and delve deep into the shadows I’d never wanted to see. This space witnessed countless mornings of dedicated yoga practice, breathwork, meditation, and ecstatic dance, with just as many mornings of hangovers, regret, depression, and loneliness.
Maybe this post is more for me than for anyone else… so that I have something other than just mind-picture memories to look back on when I’m 40 and wanting to remember my 20’s. But regardless, what I have realized is that the spaces we put ourselves in, the people we allow into our lives, the ways that we grow along the way… those all add up into a beautiful path worth walking along. Life will never be perfect, beautiful, and magical all the time. But when I look back at the past 5 years living in this apartment, I am shocked to see more amazing moments of ecstatic joy, bliss, love, and surrender then I ever would have expected while living them. At age 22, I could have never imagined I’d be leaving this apartment to move into a Prius with my boyfriend and my dog… but here I am. And the walls that housed me these past 5 years helped me get here.
So cheers to you, apartment 811. I hope someone actually fixes your foundation one day <3.