We packed. We shipped. We banked. We visited doctors. We tied up loose ends. We became carless. That same day we became home-less too. We had to hand over the apartment at some point and the end of the month seemed like an adequate date. Originally our lease was up in October but we convinced our landlord to let us out early. We had a valid reason after all, and we had been paying his mortgage for over five years. He had to let us out, and he did.
Five years is the longest Jeff and I had lived in one place. It seems like the time just flew by since we first moved into unit 224. I remember the day Jeff told me he had found a place for us in Arlington:
I was still in Portland living in our house, taking care of business and tying up loose ends. I was busy getting naturalized and was not ready to pause the process and restart it in another state. I was still engaged with my friends and surroundings and not ready to leave yet. I stayed behind then, just like I stayed behind now, taking my time saying my goodbyes and moving on. I remember how excited he was that he had found a 2-bedroom in Arlington at a reasonable cost. I remember asking him whether it was going to fit all "our" furniture; the furniture that my parents had shipped from Lebanon to furnish our house in Portland. I remember him saying that it would; that the dining-room table would fit in the dining area, that the three-seater couch would fit in the living area, that we could make it work. And, I also remember my reaction to seeing the washer and dryer unit. I was beside myself; I remarked at how small I thought they were. If only I had known!
And while I was a fan of the condo's location I was never really a fan of the condo. It was on the ground floor, had no privacy and was un-kept when we moved in. The carpet had not been replaced between tenants, nor was the paint refreshed. Through the years we made it "home" and yet I desired to leave it at some point. We made it work, with four adults and we made it work with two adults and two kids. We made it work, and it worked for us, though I complained about it.
Then, one day I had nothing more to complain about in the US. I left the keys in the upper left-hand side kitchen drawer and headed downstairs to my parent's. I closed the door one last time to what was and headed to what is. After one last load of laundry to help a friend out, it was time to turn my back to unit 224 and walk ahead. I had mixed feelings. The apartment that once housed our family stood bare of all shapes and sounds. The pitter-patter of little feet still echoed in the corners and the shadows still lingered on the walls but it was not home anymore, it was now only a structure, a four-sided residence that will soon become someone else's domain. The empty drawer stood empty; they all stood empty.