Complicated Goodbyes

This wild ride…

So, we’re moving to California! It’s all happening so fast, almost too fast. But when I pause to think about it, I don’t know if I’d have it any other way. Really, the hardest part has always been the hard part of every big change — wanting to have and keep everything so as to never have to say goodbye. It becomes exponentially more difficult when it’s something you claim ownership of, whether it’s a job that you’re proud of, a place that you have cared for, or a relationship that has grown or changed.

But change happens and when one door opens, other things must shift to accommodate it. And if I learned anything from my hell-week of “terminations” when I left my social work internship, I know that the tragedy of goodbyes is often a trick of the mind. Really, we can continue to build relationships, make memories, and learn from anything, even when they no longer exist in our physical world.

At the same time, it’s okay to feel that loss and mourn it. Right now, the hardest loss for me is knowing I have to say goodbye to our apartment. Our friends? We’ll see them.* But our first home-love… Do you ever really forget the first?

This apartment was a leap of faith, both for our relationship with each other, and a commitment to a place, a neighborhood, and a community. It is where we dreamed of futures and created a space where we felt held and supported. Where we wanted to spend time and explore our hobbies — cooking, board game nights, printmaking, web coding — together and on our own. New passions were discovered and old ones were cherished.

It’s where we lived when we struggled with difficult jobs and demanding schedules. Where our relationship strained and groaned under the pressure.

We poured so much of ourselves into this place. I remember coming to the apartment after work every day to scrape more paint, spackle dents in the ceiling, and wipe the previous owner’s fingerprints off the walls. J spent hours untangling the mess of old wiring and I worked to fill the place with beautiful things. I remember when we laid our sleeping bags on the bare floor to spend the night before starting early the next day to continue cleaning, organizing, and renovating.

This is where, corny as it is, I fell more in love with J as I saw the investment and care he put into our future together and into the place that we would share. Where we learned more about each other, how we each approach problems, and how we can work better together. The beauty of our home is, in many ways, a testimony to our teamwork and love.

And it’s also a place that we opened up for our friends and family to stay when they were visiting or needed housing. It’s a place we were proud to call home and where others felt welcome.

We lived here through snowstorms, thunderstorms, heat waves, and polar vortexes. And now, maybe too soon, it’s time to pass it on to another.

There are obviously things I won’t miss, and things I wish we had the time to fix and enjoy before we leave. There are things I yearned for — a balcony, central air, a place to grill. I do know, though, that I still love every moment of walking down its hall, cooking in its kitchen, and gazing out its windows as the seasons change. The morning light in the living room, and the blast of afternoon sun in the second bedroom. Turning on the AC during the first heat of the season, or shutting the windows and hearing the clank of the heater while the winter wind whistles outside.

With all that we put into it, and the ways we made it our home, sending it off feels like leaving a part of ourselves that we hope will be appreciated by others, and that we hope to also re-discover in our new home, wherever it may be. It’s this moment of tearing and separation that is the hardest part. Another leap of faith, another dream for the future, another creation to forge together. The hard parts are hard for a reason, and if we didn’t care so much, would we ever feel so torn?


*I’m joking. We will miss the shit out of our friends and the ways we have loved and supported one another over the many years.

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