I've been lucky in my apartments over the years. I've managed to evade roommates and vermin, and to secure places that really suited me as 'home' for the times I inhabited them. I hardly spent any time in my first apartment, in Western Massachusetts, which I rented towards the end of my college career (against the school's residential policy, but... 'fuck that noise' was, I believe, my specific sentiment toward policy at the time). But just having a space to retreat to, and to host guests and parties in, felt like a long-awaited relief to me then. I'd spent as long as I could remember vying for privacy and unqualified independence in my living situation. Getting, and paying for, that apartment marked the moment that I really took my life on as my own (thankyouverymuch). Frankly, too, my life was plenty ready for me. And I for it. Things flowed pretty smoothly from there ('policy' and I got along better, too).
I moved to upper Manhattan about a year later, and my apartment featured bay windows that looked out from a high ledge over two overlapping roadways and, beyond those, the Hudson river. When it snowed, I'd soak in hot baths and look out at the lights-- flowing along the highways like molten lava, and sparkling across the water from New Jersey-- and feel like I was floating in some kind of undiscovered urban spring. When it was warm, I'd run across the George Washington bridge to the opposite shore, and look back at New York City, squint, pinpoint my place in its matrix. I worked in Midtown, though, and everything that was really happening seemed to be happening in Brooklyn, so when Aaron and I realized we were WE, as in permanently (and that my lease was coming up for renewal), we found our little Williamsburg railroad and brought all of our things there together in his van.
Austin is starting to feel like home now, more and more every day. It's less a matter of living quarters than of an expanding circle of people with whom we are connected and care about, by way of just living our lives. This apartment we're leaving tomorrow has been our base for just over a year, and I've appreciated it for its location (food carts, five minutes away, in all four directions? Check.), for its closets, for its pool, for its neighbors ('World Traveler Tom' brings us green chile from New Mexico, and European souvenirs, in exchange for our checking his mail). I won't miss its popcorn ceilings, its thin walls, or some of our other neighbors (most notably the meth-head couple who leave trash all over the shared walkways, and recently drove their car into six others in the parking lot... true story), but that's mostly because I'm ready-- we're ready-- for a house. We knew we weren't going to stay in the apartment. And we've come really far since we arrived. We moved in feeling rather uprooted; our baby was sick, our friends were far away. Everything kept moving, though, and here we are today. Our lives are good, and full, and we know our surrounding streets and customs in a way that visitors don't. We know we'll live in the new house for at least a few years, too. Once again, or finally, we are arriving home.