Empty pizza boxes & stained coffee mugs.

This time was different. 

***

The giant tower stood before me. “WELCOME, UMASS CLASS OF 2015” the banner read in bold crimson letters. 15th floor. Corner room. A lofted bed. My mother’s fight to hold back her tears. We had already unloaded my father’s truck of Rubbermaid plastic drawers, a $12.99 bright blue desk lamp from Target, over a hundred photos of my high school friends and a Jersey Shore poster. A new chapter.

***

My items were scattered around my living room. Socks and underwear tied in a plastic bag sitting next to my hiking boots and cork wedges. “I’m going to put your passport in this pocket,” my mom said. 2 large suitcases and a carry-on. A blank journal and a journey with unwritten adventures. Mom lifted her sunglasses from her eyes at the airport, “You know you have to come home at some point. Don’t fall in love and leave me for Cape Town forever.” Bye, Mom. Bye, Dad. Love you. 

***

Blue and red flashing lights filled my rear-view. 3am. 5 more hours on the road. “Why are you on this level? Do you realize how dangerous this is? What is in the back of your van?” Um, a bed and some clothes. “Next time, don’t drive on the compact car level of the George Washington bridge when you’re a large U-Haul van.” Sorry, officer.

I looked to my right as my mom dozed back off. I peaked out the window and looked at the sky. Life as I knew it was currently packed away in black trash bags and a saran wrapped mattress in the back of a 10′ van driving atop a bridge we weren’t supposed to be on.

We reached our destination just as the sun started to rise. An unfamiliar territory painted with light pinks and oranges on the horizon and one too many Starbucks. My new life. My new life was…here. Here. Here for as long as I wanted it to be here.

***

I’ve grown accustomed to moving. “Home” has taken on a new meaning ever since my parents sold my childhood home. To me, home used to mean the tangible aspects of a house. The familiar stain on the carpet that mom could never seem to wash out. The seconds it took for the upstairs shower to warm up. The stack of DVDs collecting dust you promised your parents you’d watch all of the time. You know, the little things that could just be expected. They were just, well, there.

I recently left the place that I’ve called “home” in DC the past 2.5 years (has it really been that long?). I moved roughly a 6 minute walk away so you’re probably like why you gotta be so emotional???

I didn’t expect to be either.

The morning my application went through I was practically skipping around town. “I’m going to THRIVE in my own bachelorette pad!!!” I texted all of my friends. I had done the whole roommate thing for the past 6 or so years of my life and while I’ve lived with some of the best (and worst) girls of my life, I’m just at a point in my life where I’m just like, over it. Just ready to be on my own. Ya feel me?

The next thing I knew I was staring at my empty bedroom in Dorchester House fighting back unexpected tears. This was my home. But, like, not the kind of home I used to call home. The kind of home that I made for myself. This apartment has seen every facet of my life since I moved here — the best moments and the worst.

Empty pizza boxes, stained coffee mugs & a broken blind that never got fixed. New friends, random hookups & people who didn’t turn out to be who I wanted them to be. Stacks of training manuals from restaurant jobs and freelance contracts. Times of pure joy jumping on my bed in a sports bra and plaid pajama shorts following a grad school acceptance and times of tear-soaked pillow cases following a string of lies and vulnerability.

Late nights sitting cross-legged in my bed, candles lit with a journal and pen in hand. Early mornings of pinks and orange painted sunrises through my window. Afternoons of sitting at the dining room table hitting “submit application” hundreds of times.

It’s been a journey with a familiar narrative to some.

A young twenty-something attempting to navigate through messy twists and turns, trying to please everyone by making all the right choices yet not really knowing if the right choices for those other people are the right choices for yourself. Blissfully lost. Frustrated yet hopeful. Tired yet resilient. 

Wordy, but familiar. Right?

***

My friend and I packed the UHaul van* last Thursday evening not knowing how much shit I actually had (isn’t that how it always works?) and drove approx 2 blocks to my new home (lolz). Two large iced coffess, one free pizza and many ‘OMFG my back hurts’ later, we finally finished the moving process at 2am. Did I mention how fabulous my friends are?

Shit was everywhere, the couch was in pieces scattered across my living room and my new kitchen was blocked by an influx of trash bags filled with more of my random shit. I knocked out on my bare mattress shortly after and rolled out of bed the next morning for work.

Welp, I was moved in. I had a new home and I don’t have a roommate. Weird. 

*This was an extremely abridged version of what actually happened. The studio I thought I was moving into all month got ripped from under me the afternoon before Thanksgiving as I was on my way to drop off my signed lease and I didn’t find an alternative until 3 days before I had to be out of my old apartment. LOL LIFE MAN

***

One week later, my couch is assembled and the place is slowly coming together. I honestly haven’t had much time to be all ~zen~ and reflect on my new bachelorette pad, but I think that time will come when all of the trash bags of random shit are put in their proper places. For the time being, I’ve been praising the dishwasher and food disposal in my sink. I always told myself the day that I have those two things in my apartment is the day I know I’ve made it.

I’m excited to see what memories this place will bring. New friends & f*ckboys; empty pizza boxes & stained coffee mugs. The usual, but different.

Well, hopefully no f*ckboys this time around.

Cheers to new adventures! Thanks to everyone who have made the past 2.5 years in DC worth hanging around for. Y’all are invited to my Christmas/house warming party I accidentally planned the night before all of my final papers are due. #Blessed.

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