June 17, 2021
It’s been 10 days past a year since I first moved in. I imagine you won’t read these words until it’s a husk. The afternoon light beaming to an empty audience in the standing air. I have an idea of where I might be on that day. I have this little dream that doesn’t seem unlikely, but I’ve had many little dreams. So I won’t say it now, you’ll find out later if I was right. I just had this idea that I might document the little life that happened here, this season of my existence that I have come to adore for its flourishing and acknowledge for the toll it charged. It’s been bountiful, its returns almost dreamlike in their brilliance. But it hasn’t come cheap. And there’s something about the totality of the prices I’ve paid that made me want to pay homage to them as much as the victories.
It was a hot day when I moved in, the middle of June in Texas. A 26 year old girl on her third move in two months, a dog, and a cat. I’ll move out a 28 year old girl with two dogs. No cat. I emphasize that now because today is the last day a cat will patter around this home. The last day I’ll hear a thud from the corner of the living room where her cat tree sits when I open the bedroom door in the morning. The last morning she yelled as I mixed the dogs’ breakfast. The sun will set tonight from my patio door and no one will be here to see it.
It’s a ruefully good thing. My family looks different but it is a family. Her family looks different but it’s a family. Our futures are beautiful and beckoning but they’re separate. Good and rueful.
In August of last year, I welcomed my second dog, Crouton. A little rescue who found a family around the same time I was finding myself.
My first lease here was under the name I was called then. A name I hated and had always hated. It was the very last time that name would grace an official document. That girl is gone now, too.
I wrote four books here, and fragments of two more so far, in the light of the corner windows in this bedroom. The same notebook sprawled on the teal comforter of my king sized bed. It’s now over a quarter full. I remember the hot day I bought it, the blank page staring expectantly at me. This is the last day I’ll write something on this teal comforter, a new one arrives in the mail today. The laptop those books were born on lost to me now. I quit the shitty job it came with.
It’s little things. Inconsequential things. All added to the ledger of pieces that have come and gone. They’re important only in the way that they add to the luminescence of the monumental memories that were made here. The ones that made me as much as I made them. And that’s what makes this season of my life so much richer than others; what came to pass here has changed me forever. I became Azalea, I became an author, I became the companion of one more dog and one less cat. I became someone’s person again. I became untangleable from that person and that person became unremoveable from my future.
Everything that has happened here in the last year has been high stakes, metamorphizing, world altering. Nothing that has transpired in the walls of apartment 2007 has been trivial. The girl who sits here a year later is brand new in every sense from the royalty checks to the court orders.
I felt compelled to write this because I find myself on a course, for the first time, that is launching me into a new life. I’ve always felt that I could turn around if I wanted to, until this very moment. I have this innate sense that I am I being pushed, a cosmic hand on the small of my back, by everything around me into something just before me. For the first time in my life, the culmination of my choices has created its own gravity and its propelling me into some new and obscured phase of my life.
This season that sits vividly in the middle of my memory. The one I will remember fondly as the time that created everything. The big bang on my existence. I emphasize this all only to demonstrate to you why this unassuming, overpriced apartment is so symbolic and important.
I will not walk out of here the same person, I won’t even be recognizable. I won’t leave with the same things, I will not head in the same direction. And there was something about that acknowledgement that inspired me to commit it to words. These words will sit in my drafts for the next year. I’ll revisit them once in a while and then, with finality, once the door to this apartment closes on me forever.
October 6, 2021
Another quarter of a year come and gone like a considerate guest. They pass pleasant time and they’ve left before you know it. It’s autumn now, the mornings are crisp. And still yet, my life is different. I’m sitting in the place where we had our first date, only a few tables away from the one we huddled over on a chilly January afternoon. It’s also the place I came to when my heart was disassembling itself slowly to escape the quiet in which I could only hear the sound of its fracturing. Before that, it’s the place where I heard my favorite song for the very first time. It’s a bittersweet place. Sacred ground for all my big feelings. Sometimes, it takes convincing to bring me back here. But like all places rich with history, I’m always glad I came.
It’s a feeling I’m still learning to room with, here in this vessel that feels too cramped. Bittersweetness. If my life were to have a flavor, it would be this one. Cavernous, beautiful good things and bottomless, bleak sad things. It’s hard to believe there’s room for them all here.
What an odd way to introduce what can only, on paper, be described as wonderful progress. I don’t live at this apartment anymore, let’s start there. I still pay the rent but the only thing that moves from room to room is dust. The sun rises and sets on the walls here and it has little consequence.
You like when I call your place home, and really it has been. I wake up there every morning, I perform my little rituals every day, and it never feels anything but normal. And then there’s days like these, when I find my way back to apartment 2007. I know someone lived here once, but it doesn’t feel like me. It’s messy but it’s not lived in. I find myself pacing from room to room, unable to perch. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be doing here anymore.
I’m in the in-between now. I don’t really belong there, but I can’t belong here anymore. I’m a citizen of nowhere. A drifter living out of one drawer and many bags. At any moment in time, I have to go, and I don’t really have anywhere to be. It’s the awkward stage of my growing phase. If my predictions of Summer 2022 are true, none of this will matter anymore. This is where I have to be to get to where I want. And it’s where I want to be anyway; with you, always.
But there’s the undeniable truth that no matter how comfortable I get or how welcome you make me feel, I have no power there. I have little security, I’m never in my element. And some days it gets hard. For a while, I allow myself pity. I cry for my lack of stable orbit, for the first time in my life. And then I get over it. This is temporary, like everything before this has been.
A sumptuous taste of the life I’m hoping for. A holding pattern with no place to land. Bittersweet.
February 6, 2022
I sold the ballet barre today. A staple of my identity. Writer, poet, ballerina. It went to another dancer I’ve known for years. It’s one less thing to move, one less thing to have to potentially store. It’s bulky. Currently falling to disrepair due to the tendon tear in my right ankle. These are all facts. But I hope it’s the whole picture, rather than the envoy of truth. I hope I’m not doing what comes so naturally to me – making tradeoffs.
The last few months have been spectacular, transformative. It’s all coming together. Just like I thought it might. And the last few months have demanded much in return. I am both proud of and cowering from all the emotional labor I’ve wielded. I am growing. Loving myself more than ever. Untangling narratives spun from trauma and fear. I am surrendering to my circumstances. I am doing the best I can. I am bearing my soul with sincerity and willing you to feast.
But the fear doesn’t go away. I doubt it ever will. What kind of life will a human have when they become unafraid of losing it? It’s something I manage more than something I conquer. And I feel the way my malleable body folds to stay out of the way. The wear on my bones as they condense and stretch to fit the moment. My heart going supernova and brown dwarf many times in one day. I want to make this easy, I want to make it sure, I want to always be at my pinnacle. And so many times in the past few months, I have fallen short.
I make these little tradeoffs. I calculate their deductions. I keep a ledger in my head of what everything costs, what the sum becomes everyday. Because I can’t bear to be surprised. I am made to realize over and over again that I can’t expect the best of a situation if I’m guarding against the possibility of worst case scenarios. I can’t love completely and protect myself from the recoil. I can’t give something my all and keep it on a string, ready to snag back. I have to surrender. I have to forfeit my coveted tradeoffs.
And so I sold the barre, but only after telling myself that I’m only down furniture. I will keep dancing, as soon as I’m healed. I will go back to classes and I will dedicate myself to my passions. I will keep writing, even if right now I don’t have anything solid to anchor routine to. I won’t dismantle this apartment and leave the best parts of myself here. I won’t forsake everything I became at great personal cost.
It’s all happening. I’m getting everything I ever wanted. But it’s not as easy as I thought it might be to claim it. We don’t just fall into it. Even when the journey is all downhill, that doesn’t mean we don’t sometimes tumble down. In truth, I deleted an entry from November 30th, 2021 in which 70% of the update was simply the phrase “I hate this”. There was no version of this journey that didn’t require emotional scaffolding over existing scar tissue. There was no version of this where I wasn’t at the middle of a tunnel with light at both ends. I was the one who walked in. These are the tradeoffs. I’m coming undone so it can all come together.
March 10, 2022
For some reason, I can’t stop picturing your tail lights today. It was just about a year ago this time. Boy, was I just grasping on to anything solid. A year ago I still lived here, all the time. I kept the windows open at night so the warm light of my apartment could spill out. I left the screen door cracked so my favorite songs could whisper to you when you came. Michigander and Flor and Lord Huron. I didn’t play Fallingwater or Dancing With Your Ghost. I never played the songs I needed when you left.
I could hear the sound of your car backing into a space and my heart would lift back into place. Coconuts. I loved that sound. But today, I pictured your tail lights. When the night would get late and I’d be dreading the moment you’d tell me you’d better go. We’d be laying in bed, the windows wide open. You were so allergic to my cat, you should have probably gone hours earlier. But I didn’t see it like that then. Because the moment you were gone, the loveliness didn’t linger. Every moment that stretched until I saw you again was rewinding. Was longing. I would watch your tail lights, in your futuristic car, and I would lose you to the night.
I haven’t been here at night in nearly a month. I’ve almost forgotten the warm light. It calls back memories of summer rain, before I even knew you. Christmas eve when I’d never been happier. I couldn’t wait to get out of here, a year ago today, and now I’m leaving – 3 months from now.
The elephant basket is gone. The over the door mirror. The plant wall. The disco ball. The floor lamp. The velvet bench. It’s okay, it helps to see the progress. And that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. I don’t know why it comes to me all at once. I don’t know why it comes to me at all. But every once in a while, I spend a day looking back on how I built what I have now. It’s so dreamy, so wistful, it makes me swoon and wilt all at once. Even now, a year later, I sit in this apartment and I miss you, I implore you to choose me, I sit and wonder how I could possibly love you better. All this time has passed, and you’ve chosen me, and I’m getting everything I wished for. And still I wonder – how can I possibly love you better?
April 4, 2022
The shelf with the cameras on it, the area rug, the patio furniture, the console table. I tore down the patio lights that stopped working a year ago. I threw the stiff, faded outdoor blankets out on my way down to the trail. I carried with me the old plastic couscous tub that housed Jacks’s birdseed for decades, and the dried roses – one from Florence and the other unknown to me now. But I’ve carried them around for long enough. I dropped the seed around the lake until the old tub was empty, Jack’s parting gift to the birds of the greenbelt. And when I reached the closest spot to the water, I threw the roses in and watched for a moment while they floated away. I was ready to let it all go, but the sight of it moved me in a way that made me still.
I could have gotten off the trail at the halfway point. I hadn’t attempted to walk it since my ankle injury. But something compelled me to go forward. I remembered the first time I’d walked Crouton on it, on her home visit. I remembered sitting in those Adirondack chairs watching the warm summer rain and reading Anthony Bourdain, the soft light of my apartment creating a halo around my cat on her tree. The cat that went to sleep one week ago today. I remembered racing to the store for that area rug 6 years ago, the last one left. I remembered bringing the console table into an empty apartment. My new life. And so I threw the empty couscous tub into the recycling bin and I kept going.
The lovely thing about this experience is meeting new people. My rug will live on a patio and my Adirondack chairs at a new lake house. A thousand near misses punctuate the dismantling on my life. I can’t bring myself to regret resenting this place at one point. Even as now I think about what a beautiful home it was. Warm, with light and heat. Colorful and bold and bright. Spacious and cozy. How it cared for me when I needed it most, how it cared for the things I care for too, the things that are no longer here.
My life is rampant with change at the moment, both good and bad. Bing Bong is gone, for real this time. I’m leaving this home. I’m leaving my job. I’m hoping that I’m worthy of what I’m stepping into next. And at times it feels like these emotions are swirling together into experiences I can’t name and I don’t want to possess. I underline these feelings with this fear, that all that I can’t control will spin out of its constraints and launch shrapnel at the parts of my life I want to stay the same. I worry about being boring and human and, at times, unappealing. I am scared that momentary glitches overwrite the good that you see in me. I am desperately hoping to learn how to love myself enough to not buy stock in this fear. Between steadying breaths, I try to remind myself that I don’t need to be peddled. All who love me see me for what I am without continued selling.
As I reached the other side of the pond, I was glad I chose the other half. The rose had floated into the middle. Little heads popped up around it and I realized the turtles had returned. When Summer sucked the lake nearly dry, they’d gone somewhere else and I worried they’d never come back. But they were here, and there was my rose, and I stared at it as I crossed the bridge to leave. I said “I love you”, but I knew I didn’t love that rose. I loved the girl who owned it. I’d loved the home it lived in. I will love the girl who threw it in the lake.
June 21, 2022
I thought about you today while I was packing my records. How Everything In Transit played the first time you were here. My next door neighbor has a subwoofer on the wall we share, I said. I could help you rearrange your bedroom, you replied. How naive I was. How naive I have always been. I wonder if I’ll ever see it as a virtue, my lacking of this thing that comes so much more easily to you, to everyone else. I wonder if I’ll ever stop being intimidated by how naturally it seemed to integrate into your life, if I’ll ever let myself cling to that thing between your words.
That day was a thousand iterations of myself ago. My bedroom is lined with boxes and I write this from a mattress on the floor. Little hurdles I was hoping to clear dot the horizon behind me. I remember how unnaturally it felt to lift myself to their heights. And now I walk outside towards the parking lot across the street from your apartment and I can only vaguely remember when I used to park there. How I would gather parking tickets like deep breaths because I didn’t want to go home. I remember when I couldn’t let myself into this building. I remember the hammer of my heart as I waited outside. Such deeply felt things that seemed to run eternal. There’s a noticeable quiet left in their wake.
It’s a funny thing, getting exactly what you asked for. In little moments of the day, you realize the things you loved about the interim. These tiny pieces of a silver lining I don’t wish to outgrow as my cloud gets bigger. I want to chat about our days when I’m not around. I never want to stop sending you cutesy emojis. I don’t want to settle into a comfortable stupor of grouchiness before bedtime. I want to love you in the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed way I have for the last year and a half. I want to dig into my reserves to offer you extra smiles. I want to listen to you talk with the same measure of awe. I want to admire your simple being as you walk, as you send an email. I wanted all of what I have right now, and yet I’m not willing to leave behind what we have had, not entirely.
When we receive what we pray for, we don’t stop praying. We then pray for the discipline to keep it, and we pray for the wisdom to multiply it. And here, on the precipice, I know that I’ve bared it all for you. I watch you navigate the space around me with kindness, and consideration, and beautiful love. And I will the live wires at the ends of me into submission. I turn my focus to discipline and I set my sights on multiplication. I will love you all my life, this I know. But I want to love you well, I want to love you intentionally, I want to never maim this thing that I now turn my life to.
July 7, 2022
There was the guy with the Mustang and the cat, who only came for the weekend twice a month. There was the guy with the subwoofer attached to the other side of my bedroom wall. There was the girl with quotes written in marker on her balcony door who sang Celine Dion at the top of her lungs. And there was me.
There were curtains on my patio and two sets of string lights. The 200 hundred year-old oak tree across from my window would light up completely – when they remembered. There was the Christmas wreath knocking against my front door in the winter wind. There was six-feet of snow piled up against my entryway. There was a bar cart and a wine fridge and a plant wall surrounding a neon light. There was an entire wall covered in photos of my travels. One across from it filled with my art. There was a Victorian couch and an antique school desk and a vintage coffee table. There was a lilac velvet bench perched against my bed. There was a teal satin quilt and a ballet barre. There was a cat tree. There was a cat. We were all here together, for a moment in time.
Summer showers and rainbows would visit with me while I read on that patio, my feet scratching against the astroturf. The bright light of September afternoons and warm fall evenings sat with me while I wrote my first book. These four walls saw the tears that sprang from an early email from the court. The springs in that couch felt the weight lift from my shoulders when I quit that job. The upstairs cat would run across the floor while my Alpine Village twinkled. The singing girl would belt Adele while I walked to Sprouts for a bottle of wine. She’s gone now. And so is the cat upstairs. And so is the cat that was here. And now, so am I.
I fell in love here. I became an author 3 times here. I became Azalea here. I cried here, so fucking hard. I prayed here, so fucking hard. I felt my heart break, and suture back together. I felt days on end of hopelessness and far, far more days of hopefulness. And my little dream came true. I’m moving in with you. I’m getting closer, scooching slightly everyday, towards that wonderful thing we sometimes dare to name.