What causes you to remember your past?
For me, it’s usually songs. I relate and live through the lyrics so intensely that it anchors me to certain moments in my life. Sometimes its big moments: the song that made me start learning guitar, Kevin and I’s first big fight after I moved to Charlotte, my college graduation. But often times its seemingly irrelevant moments like studying for zoology in college or getting ready for work in the morning. The music imprints itself on my brain and creates my own version of home movies whenever I hear them.
This week, A Drop in the Ocean by Ron Pope played on my phone at work, and immediately, I was back in my first adult apartment. It was a brisk fall day and my windows and back patio door were open, and the breeze smelled the way perfect October days smell: crisp and clean and earthy. There were pumpkin and cinnamon candles burning in every room. I had a caramel apple spice in my hand and was dancing through the apartment while haphazardly attempting to clean. My husband (then boyfriend) was probably either in the shower or back at his own place for the morning. Ron Pope was on repeat.
It was 11 AM on a Monday but I swear I could smell those candles and feel the breeze on my face. It’s been 5 years since I’ve set foot in, or really even thought about, that apartment but I realized I was incredibly home sick for my old home.
Looking back now, I find it funny I can have such longing for a place I spent one year of my life in. Especially because I spent every day living in that apartment counting down the days until I moved out. I knew at the end of both our leases, Kevin and I would find our own place. We had spent two years dating long distance and the idea of finally living with him had been something I thought impossible only months before. It was all I wanted. Instead, we rotated between our apartments and I grew frustrated and impatient. One of us always seemed to forget something important at the apartment we just left, which resulted in a constant back and forth. Truthfully, our apartment complexes weren’t even a mile apart but at that point in my life it was just another reason we should have already been living together. I began to have a love-hate relationship with my apartment and what it represented: a contract that kept me from living with Kevin.
In retrospect, it was a good thing we didn’t live together right away. After 2 years of being together once a month, it was borderline overwhelming to see him everyday. It changed everything about our relationship and felt as if we were getting to know each other all over again. Being the introvert that I am, I regularly need “me time” and it would have been almost impossible to get in my apartment. I think we both needed our own safe haven; a place we could each escape to when we needed some space or some quiet. Ultimately, that’s what my apartment became: my safe haven.
It was a tiny thing, but that apartment on Fishers Farm Lane was 625 square feet of all mine. For the first time in my life, I was completely independent. I had a job, my own apartment, and responsibilities. If I wanted to, I could completely screw up my life and my credit score. Thankfully, I did neither! But I thrived in my freedom, financial and otherwise. Being my first job and living alone, the above mentioned financial freedom didn’t include a cable bill, so I spent hours pouring over Netflix shows, both awful and entertaining, which is how I found the Ron Pope song.
That song brought up so many memories that I’d forgotten. I decorated for the holidays. I had family and friends come to visit. I laughed so hard I cried. I also cried so hard I eventually laughed at how dramatic I was being. I cooked and entertained people. I studied for licenses I needed for work. I celebrated Kevin’s 25th birthday there. I built a “fort” in the living room. I loved there. I lived there.
It may have been a cramped apartment, but there was so much love and happiness squeezed in between those walls. It was home.