I’m sitting on my mattress, on the floor, surrounded by cats and empty takeout containers. The apartment is nearly empty, and it suddenly feels so spacious. My clothes, books, and most of my crafting supplies and knick-knacks all went over to the new house last week, along with most of my kitchen stuff (hence the takeout containers). My potted plants took up the entire bed of the rental truck, and required their own trip. The couch was modular, and all of the pieces were easy for me to handle, except for the bench-like seat. That’s why 3/4 of the couch is in the spare bedroom at the new house, and one piece is still sitting here in my soon-to-be abandoned apartment.
This move has taken me too long. I’ve been moving gradually since June. But I needed the time to say goodbye. I guess I’m still saying it.
I moved here six years ago, in a hurry, out of desperation. It wasn’t what I wanted — I would have preferred a typical New Orleans shotgun house — but I had neither the time nor the bank account necessary to call the shots. I had dumped my boyfriend, and needed to get out of our shared apartment. It just so happened that a work colleague had decided to move out of the city, and our schedules lined up perfectly. In fact, we even shared the same moving truck and helped each other move. The apartment building is a dumpy, mid-century six-flat, all cinder block construction. It looks a lot like a pay-by-the-hour motel, and I’m pretty sure that at some point in its history, it was a slum property. But my landlord bought it, fixed it up, and by the time I moved in, the individual studios were all more or less decent. I was sold when I saw the wood laminate floors. I’m a creature of simple tastes.
I was both excited and apprehensive to move to the Marigny, since it was somewhere I’d never explored. It seemed way too hip for me. But I grew to love it here. I don’t fit in with the party scene, but I love the architecture and the greenery. I have spent six years wandering the streets, quietly appreciating cracks in the sidewalks, watching out for bugs, chatting back to the birds, scouting out interesting castoff items on the curbs. I never found a tribe here, so to speak. But I felt a sense of belonging here, all the same. There are neighbors who know my name. There’s a dog that says hello to me each day. I have a particular tree that I talk to on my walks into the French Quarter. And I do walk everywhere. The same paths are somehow always different. I peer into backyards, and make soft sounds at feral cats, and think cottony thoughts, and time passes.
What is it about time that we need? The units of measurement are arbitrary, and can be shuffled at will. Six years in an apartment that I thought I’d leave in a few months. A year and four months ago to the day, my mother called to tell me that my father was lying lifeless before her on the living room floor. Two years ago I sat on my bed and called my friend Andy, so drunk and sad that I could do nothing but sob wordlessly into the telephone. He held me from 1,000 miles away, understanding me as only someone similarly broken could. He is gone now, too; that was only last Christmas. Five years ago, I sat in my living room, planning what could fit in my backpack, trying to get it down to 15 lbs. for a trek across Spain. Ten months ago, I agonized over what to wear for a first date, pulling outfit after outfit out of the closet. I settled on a lacy black t-shirt with a keyhole back, and a pair of jeans. I realized just before walking into the restaurant that I was covered in cat hair. How was I to know that I’d fall in love before the bill arrived?
People keep asking me if I’m excited to move. I’m supposed to say that this is a new adventure, and that I’m looking forward to building a new life. But I don’t have those words in me just yet. I see them around the corner. I know that I will be happy where I’m going. I have made the right choices, and they are leading to a very good place. But for now, the clouds are gathered, and my heart is heavy. I need to mourn this old life for a bit longer, I think.
Tomorrow, things will change significantly. I will pack up the cats, as Local H said. I will slip the key into my neighbor’s mailbox. I will drive away from this ugly green apartment building for the last time. Goodbye to single life. Goodbye to the freedom that this tiny home has represented. Goodbye to long walks down verdant side streets. Goodbye to the good trash that my rich neighbors throw out. Goodbye to knowing that I am surrounded by progressives, artists, musicians, and healers on all sides. Goodbye to believing that I belong here, even if I never quite found a way to fit in. Goodbye Marigny.
Hello, whatever’s next.