It was very tempting for me to just copy/paste my "27 Things I Learned by 27" into this blog. But, since this is something I had been working on over the summer, it would've been cheating. Linking to it might be redundant, as anyone who reads this either found out about it through my crafts blog, or knows me well enough to be reading both (if they are reading any of my blogs at all), but still, if you haven't read it, hop on over to my crafts blog for 27 Things I Learned by 27.
This week has been about closing out the apartment. I spent all day on Monday vacuuming, scrubbing, bleaching, and spackling. You don't realize how grubby a fridge can get until you remove all the food and trays and see nothing but outlines of bottles and splotches of spilled liquid on the bottom. My shoulders got sore as I spackled and sanded every.single.nail.hole -- and there were a lot, given that I was putting an entire household's worth of pictures in a two-bedroom apartment. I didn't mind it, except when I would be sanding a nail hole and notice that, not even a foot away from me, was a spackled nail hole from a previous renter that had been hastily spackled up without any sanding.
Bunch of savages, these people.
It's weird, going into our apartment and seeing it so empty. I still expect to open the front door and see our couch where our couch was, our table where our table was. But instead I see a whole bunch of nothing, with a pile of cleaning supplies and recyclables where our TV once was.
This isn't the first time we had such a leisurely closing. We relocated from just north of Boston to Nashua in 2011. We had a "major move" about a week before the wedding, where everything but a small smattering of air mattresses and folding chairs was brought up to our new apartment. We also brought the cats and our guinea pig up, as we wanted them to at least get a feel for the new apartment before we abandoned them for two weeks. This was where my husband stayed for the remaining days before our wedding. I stayed behind at the Boston-area apartment, cleaning up the apartment so we could officially hand in our keys before we left for our honeymoon (since our lease actually ended somewhere in the middle of our honeymoon).
But I wasn't alone. My sister-in-law flew in for that week. We spent that week cleaning up the apartment, exploring Boston, finalizing wedding things, and just enjoying each other's company. We lived like broke college students, sleeping on air mattresses on the ground, going to the grocery store and buying pita chips and strawberries for lunch, laughing and talking as much (if not a little more) than actually getting work done.
This empty apartment also became a bit of a bachelorette pad for the girls of my bachelorette party to crash at. We unrolled foam mattresses and sleeping bags and woke up to freshly-made pancakes (of which we greedily gobbled up, as we were all terribly hungover).
The empty apartment was where the hair stylist and makeup artist met us and where we got ready for the wedding. I spent that morning in the empty apartment, a nervous little bride-to-be, and spent that evening in our new Nashua apartment, a slightly exhausted but incredibly jazzed-up newlywed.
When I look back on my Boston-area apartment, I don't imagine how it looked for a solid 3 years at first. I first see that practically-empty apartment, with a reading lamp on the floor as the bedroom's only source of light. I see a kitchen with next to nothing in it, save for whatever foods we had purchased that day (and a griddle to make pancakes on). I see the bare walls that, instead of housing a line of bookshelves, housed a single floor lamp and a single seat chart. Where our computer desks once where, a folding card table remained. A bridesmaid's foam mattress where our futon-couch once sat. Freshly-applied spackle where our TV was once mounted. And a closet that, instead of coats and sweatshirts and board games, held a single wedding dress, in its bag, ready for its big day.
For the Nashua apartment, since I started working as a teacher barely a week after I returned from the honeymoon, and quit around the same time our offer was accepted on the house, I always link the two together. I vacuum up the vacated rooms and remember the little things about my time there: waking up extra early to do some morning yoga. Getting into the routine of biking home for lunch, only to sip absently at a Coke and prepare yet another query letter for an agency. Or, fast forwarding a year, getting into the routine of biking home for lunch, only to lose track of time and appetite as I scrambled to get my 1000 words in for NaNoWriMo.
One of the reasons why I'm as big as I am on things like scrapbooks and pictures and sentimental souvenirs is because items -- even empty apartment -- can become vessels for memory. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about my 22nd birthday, where we had a lovely barbecue in the little grill area on the top floor of the parking garage in Boston. I'm thinking about how my husband and my brother-in-law decided, on whim, to play Fire Tennis with spatulas and wadded up paper towels. I'm thinking about how I had my little combo birthday/engagement party, where I was able to formally ask some of my closest friends to become bridesmaids. I'm thinking about how I came home from work in Nashua one night, so wound up and upset that I burst into tears before my husband could even ask how my day went, and how he was able to calm me down, even when I felt nothing would.
And now I can only imagine what type of memories this house will hold for us. If so much can happen (and be contained) by 2 or 3 years in an apartment, the possibilities are endless when you are talking about a lifetime in a house.