My coat still hanging in the closet, an old bar of soap and a nearly-empty bottle of Barbasol on the rim of the tub, a flier for a local restaurant still stuck on the fridge--these were the only things left for me to grab out of my apartment, the only reminders that I had lived here at all.
I grabbed all these things quickly and hurriedly before I headed for work, early in the morning, nobody around, no neighbors, nobody who knew me. After grabbing what I needed, I knocked on the door of the lady who lived next to me, to say goodbye and give her my new address, in case we wanted to stay in touch. She didn't answer. I shrugged, headed down the same old stairway one last time, and walked out the door. After dropping my keys in the slot in the landlord's office next door, I drove away. Simple as that.
That was Monday. This is Thursday. I haven't thought about the place since, not until just now, when I inexplicably started wondering whether the maintenance guy had set out the sad little Christmas tree that decorated the lobby every year. Every year I lived there...Good Lord...How many years could that be? Longer than the duration of my marriage-- How did that happen?
It's not like I sat there passively the whole time I lived there. I did try, and occasionally succeed, to reengage with the world. But it became so easy to stay there, even as my thirties slipped away, even as love slipped through my fingers, even as the anchor of my family was taken away.
So I must have had some affection for the place. So why, then, when I finally decided to move, was it so easy? Why are there no regrets, no sad-eyed glances backwards, no tears, not even fleeting moments of...something?
Still, there was that fleeting thought about the Christmas tree, and how my mom would chuckle over it every time she'd come to visit ("Did Charlie Brown do the decorating here?"), and how those visits dwindled later on because it was difficult for her even to climb up the front stoop, and--oh, here they come: All those memories I'd kept hidden away. Time to let them wash over me, to lead me where they will, and, hopefully, gain some wisdom from them.
And then emerge, clear-eyed, in the here and now.