I don't know if you can make out the word on that scuffed up blue key. It says "HOME".
Jessica made that key for me on a humid August night, and when she handed the shiny blue new key to me, I felt lost. I felt completely unsure about walking through the front door of that apartment. I felt completely unsure about walking out of the front door to my job interview. I felt frightened at night by the people walking past our windows, and was sure that something bad was going to happen to us. I felt hot (becuase it's hot here), I felt cold (because we blast the air conditioning). I felt like I had made the worst decision by moving here. I felt like I had made the best decision by moving here.
We moved into our amazing new apartment four days ago, and today I went back to that apartment to do the final close up. As I walked through the empty rooms, I remembered. I remember the first time I went to that apartment, during graduation last May (2008) and how we had all worked and cleaned and laughed and filled up the space with elbow grease and love. How merrily I cleaned that apartment, day dreaming about my new apartment in New York. What a different time that was. I remember the night Jessica asked me to live with her in that apartment. I remember our first night there, and how I didn't sleep because I was scared. I remember packing up literally everything we owned and driving away, evacuating for Hurricane Gustav. I remember learning which water handles made hot water and which water handles made cold water, because they were different at each faucet. I remember learning to deal with and get rid of all the extra roommates. I remember learning how to lock the front door, with its funny way of locking, and then learning to do it with one hand. I remember every time we made cupcakes. I remember learning how to make Jessica's amazing mashed potatoes. I remember learning which key went in the laundry room (the key closest to my car key) and which key worked on the second door (the one in the middle). I remember getting lots of practice parallel parking on the street, where the spots were usually smaller than I would have liked. I remember how awesomely big the bathroom was, and how conducive it was to two girls getting ready at the same time. I remember how much Drano we poured down the sink and when each of us learned how to use a plunger. I remember how we never sat down and ate a meal at the kitchen table (let alone off plates, we are bowl girls).
I remember all of it, each laugh, each tear, each excitement and each confused moment. I remember how many times I wanted to throw in the towel, and move back to New York. I remember how often I thought I had completely lost my mind. I remember that six months have passed since I moved here. I remember that I am a new person because I moved here.
Yesterday, walking home to the new apartment, someone stopped me and asked me for directions. I knew where they wanted to go and was able to communicate exactly how they should get there. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment from this simple exchange. I know that I am starting to belong here.
I can't wait to scuffle up my new, shiny key.