My condo is bare. The living room and dining room furniture was carted away on Sunday. The only things left in the kitchen are mine: A few bowls, some glasses, a cabinet full of old non-perishables that I never used.
My bedroom is boxed up, piled into one corner. The bed was stripped, the closet is empty. The bathroom is empty, too, the contents cleared from under the sink, from my linen closet, from the counter. My TV is unplugged, my boxes are labeled "Mom & Dad's" or "Billy's," to give me a better idea of where I'll be taking them. In a matter of a few days, the condo will be sold, and the new owners will be hefting their furniture into the rooms I only recently vacated.
For the past week, I've been packing all of my belongings slowly, trying to get rid of what I no longer need, and trying to decide what I will need, and what can afford to be kept in my old room in my parents' house. In a largely disorganized, labor-intensive project, I've misplaced a number of items I know I'll be needing: My Sirius information, my Sonicare Toothbrush, the remote for my stereo. I know they're all somewhere, I'm just not sure which boxes they landed in.
Last week, I loaded my car with my Salvation Army donations and headed up to my parents' house, dropping off the Glad Force-Flex bags in their garage, giving them not only the burden of taking the bags to the local SA, but also the hefty tax deduction that's sure to come with the wardrobe worth of clothes and shoes I've discarded.
Sunday, I packed the back of my car with boxes of things I won't need at Billy's house. Among those boxes were all of the photos of my history, both in and out of frames. The stereo I won't be needing at Billy's, winter coats and evening gowns that don't rate enough for a place in my new, limited, closet space. Box by box, hanger by hanger, speaker by speaker, I shuttled the boxes from my room to my car, then from my car and into my old room. I stood back and surveyed what I'd be leaving there. I recognized the feeling I had, the same way I felt the last time I was forced to move my belongings back into the high-ceilinged room of my post-adolescence. But this time it felt different; my moving was far from done.
Because, back at the condo, sat another pile of boxes, waiting to be moved in to Billy's house, and the closet was still home to a majority of my work and summer clothes. Yesterday, I drove there to face the pile. The two garbage bags of clothes from my already-gone dresser, the boxes of jewelry and makeup, the boxes of perfume and shampoo. I threw out no less than six bags of trash - things I no longer needed and didn't feel could be given away - and still I had a mountain of boxes to carry.
So I hiked up my pants, squatted down and picked up the first duo of boxes. Like Noah, I ushered my belongings out of my old life and into my new one, two by two. I hung my clothes over the headrests of my car. I arranged the boxes so that nothing would be spilled in transit. My oh-so-classy garbage bags o' clothes assured that the lighter boxes would be staying put. And I closed the garage door, started Gwen and headed to Billy's.
Now, all that's left in what used to be my house is a laundry basket, a TV, a CD rack and a handful of clothes. I have to buy a shelving unit of some sort to organize my life so that it fits seamlessly into Billy's.
But leaving my condo yesterday, knowing that my work there was almost done, made me sad. I took a deep inhale, savoring the smell of independence. I did it. For three years, I lived alone. I paid my bills, I slept by myself, I didn't need anyone but me (and my kind landlord). I never, in all my life that came before, imagined I could do that. I thought back to the three homes I've lived in since I moved out of my parents' house. I thought of my first night in my own place, the way I used to walk around touching the furniture, thinking "Oh my God. I. Live. Here." I thought of the nights I was afraid, the nights I couldn't be happier. I thought of my privacy and my seclusion, my bliss and my fears. I thought of making dinners for myself, my first trip to the grocery store for my own food. I thought of coming home, flicking on the lights and smiling. I thought of my garage door openers, the carpet in each of the rooms I inhabited, my bathrooms, their colors, the showers that were my own. I thought of sitting on my various porches, smoking and reading and drinking. I thought of what it felt like to truly be out on my own, even if I was mere miles away from my parents. I felt proud, standing there among the remains of my single life. I was glad I was by myself. I'd moved in alone, it was fitting that I'd be moving out alone. I needed this moment, to tell the scared 22 year old that moved out of the safety of her parents' house three years ago, despite her trepidation, that she'd done a good job, that I was proud of her. Thinking back on the good and bad moments, watching myself grow up and learn to rely only on myself made me so full. I felt like I'd accomplished something. It felt good. I was almost sorry to leave it.
Because even though I couldn't be happier that I'm moving in with the man of my dreams, I think a little piece of me will always miss a place of my own.