My mother casually slings her arm over my shoulder, takes a sigh, and recites the classic literary quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” She says this with twinges of both bemusement and nostalgia as we both stare back at the charming brownstone apartment I have lived in for the past three years. All of the years, in fact, since my separation and subsequent divorce .
Having just finished the arduous task of scrupulously cleaning out this old apartment, the only thing I can think about are the keys-my keys- lying there, abandoned and alone, on the naked kitchen counter in that semi-loved and semi-loathsome home that was my proverbial divorce pad. For a brief moment, I feel a bit of panic rising in my chest as the finality of it all sets in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I am not sure she could have summed up my years of residency in this building any better. It was several, prolifically prolonged, years where I reached my lowest depths of despair while simultaneously cultivating a deeper sense of self and learned about truest of true love, which is to say I learned self love. It was a place to find myself and to find happiness among darkness. It was a place where I spent many nights crying alone and many other nights laughing myself to tears while sharing beers and movies with my upstairs-neighbor-turned-best-friend. It was a place that was certainly not my carefully decorated, and very loved, three bedroom/three bath colonial house, but it was a place that was decidedly mine and no one else’s.
I close my eyes and for a moment can almost relive the nights spent scrawling in my journal and binge watching Felicity, reflecting on my own, albeit delayed, coming of age. I think of the men I have disrobed, disappointed and disposed of in that apartment. I recall the nights stumbling home from the bars downtown, arm and arm with my girlfriends. I can almost feel the grass beneath me from the days when I would lay in the adjacent park, doing nothing but staring at the sky, feeling utterly alone; wondering if I would always feel so abandoned and discarded while the world busily moved on around me. I remember the cozy snow days spent with neighbors in PJ’s, cuddled under a nest of blankets, movie nights filled with wine and take out, and sweet summer nights playing cards on our tiny balconies.
And I remember that for all I have been through, this is only the beginning. The seemingly endless nights of despair have ended, brandishing something shiner and newer than I ever thought possible. I am not that same girl anymore- the lost, lonely, bitter, depressed, over-drinking divorcee; the perpetually single tag along friend rattling off tales of her latest dating disasters. Now, I’m just Me; a Me I could not have imagined way back then. But a little part of me will miss that apartment, and the old Me that went with it, for as many times as there were bad, there were just as many good. It feels like letting go of an old friend, as I get into my car, leaving the keys, and a little bittersweet piece of my past behind.
Moving on is always tough; an exhausting task to say the least. But as I round the first corner on my drive home, it occurs to me that I am excited to see what other Me’s lie in the future . But for now, I think I’ll hang on to this one for a little while.