The very first studio apartment I ever moved into, four years ago, was the size of a postage stamp. It had a murphy bed, a tiny bathroom, and a small kitchen. I remember what it felt like at the end of the first day, my mom climbing in her car to go back home, and then it was just me, surrounded by boxes in a tiny little room. It was scary; it was exciting. It was so quiet.
Moving into that studio was the most independent thing I had ever done… and I needed so badly to be independent then. I needed to prove I could be alone and survive. Not only did I grow to absolutely love living alone, I swore I would never not live alone again. I cried when I left that apartment. It symbolized so much. It was hard to leave, even if I was just going three blocks down the road.
My next studio was a little larger. This time, I had a small outside patio, backed up to a cement wall. It wasn’t much, but from noon to 1pm it got some pretty sunshine. Neighbor and I took advantage of the hour as often as we could. It was an upgrade to have an outside space, a few more square feet, and a place to put my actual bed (although I ended up missing the murphy).
My life changed even more between those walls. I made lifelong friends, I started cooking more often, I went through a serious smoothie phase, I watched the entire first season of True Detective, and I learned what it was like to have Neighbor full time. It was a huge adjustment, but I was happy.
Going against everything I had claimed I would never do, but wanting a yard for Neighbor, I moved into a giant blue house the following year. It didn’t take long for me to regret the decision. It was a good house, good roommates, and having a yard was an absolute luxury, but I missed my independence. I missed having all my things exactly where I wanted, not having to clean up after anyone but myself, my own kitchen, and being able to walk naked from the shower to my room without a care in the world.
When all the original roommates were checking out (one moved to Seattle; one bought a house outside the city), I happily signed a lease for a studio down the road. As my move-in date drew nearer, however, I started to feel panicked. My life was much different than it had been when I first started living alone. Not only that, but my anxiety/depression was the worst it had ever been. A feeling of loneliness and futility followed me around every day, and that was with roommates around, other human interaction. Working from home didn’t make it easier, either. The idea of living by myself (and working by myself) in a new studio scared me. If I was sad then, I would definitely be even more sad in a new space, alone.
The move in day came and went. The same scenario where Mom leaves and I’m alone for the first time. Surrounded by boxes, the strange new sounds, the quiet. There are moments of sadness, of loneliness, and there are moments of happiness, familiarity. Each day, this new place has felt a little more homey. As I type this, Neighbor and I are sitting out on our teeny balcony, enjoying the summer evening, and I can honestly say I’m happy here, right now, in this moment.
Life is weird. It’s hard. It’s never, ever what you expect it to be. If I was a superhero, Change would be my arch-nemesis. I am always fighting change. But change is how I grow, change pushes me to be stronger. And every time, change brings me new surprises, new memories to look back on and think, why was I ever so scared?
I hope this time around isn’t any different.