I ran my hand over the walls one last time, feeling the cool, bumpy, concrete under the chipping yellow paint. I turned on the hanging dim yellow dining room light, shielded by a paper mache cover, the light swayed back and forth as I pushed the on switch on the cord to the light. It wasn’t hard to make my way over to the living room because it shared the same space as the table we ate at. After all, apartments were usually small. Mine used to feel bigger though.
I pass the small bathroom lining a tight walkway to my now, old bedroom. Two bunk beds were crammed against the opposing walls. The lights were off and I kept it that way since the bright apartment buildings in the night outside the window of my own supplied enough light. I walked over to the window and saw my whole neighborhood, all squished together. It felt safe. I wiped away a small layer of dust on one of the mattress crawled into the bed. My bed.
Ever since I was five years old I called the snug lower half of that bunk bed mine. Nine fulfilling years I had that bed. But if I was truly honest with myself, I never really found it that comfortable. My new bed is much better. And my new house is better. And my new school is better. And my new town and my this and my that. But it’s still hard to accept.
I think it was never the apartment that I loved, but the memories it came with. My entire childhood lived in that apartment. From the noise complaints to the warm feelings in between my parents in their bed on a winter night. The best moments happened in the summer. As I sit, perched on my mattress, shielded by various sheets covering the opening, I stare out my small bedroom window. I remembered my younger self, about ten, running down the same usually quiet neighborhood street, stacked with small town houses and apartment buildings on the upper west side.
“Stop running!.. I can’t catch up!” my youngest sister, Maddy, said between pants
“We need to get home quick so we don’t get bitten by mosquitoes!”, I yelled, while looking back at the low warm sun.
Cars honked and dogs barked in the distance while we all ran laughing with joy.
“I’m gonna beat you all home!” Said Alex, the middle child of my family, whose hair was damp from the sprinklers at the playground we were previously at.
As I imagined us turning the corner, the memory fades, and I close the window curtain. The light provided from the setting sun diminishes and I’m left in my old bedroom in the dark.
I look away from the window to face the rest of my cramped room. Originally my parents called this room their own, but they relocated to the other side of the apartment when I was six.
I slowly walked to the other side of the room, so as not to step on toys. There were so many of those littered around such a small home. They were easily lost in crevices of clothes piles or between our couch cushions. Our home was a mess but it felt so alive. Almost as if it remembered my childhood as much as I did in my apartment.
I left my room and walked over to the big, heavy front door. My family had already settled into our new house in Easton Connecticut for quite a few months and I had asked, and begged them to see the apartment just once more. Thus, the reason I’m here.
When I opened the door, it let out a low creaking noise that echoed through the dim hallway. Creeeeek. Most people would be unsettled by this, but to me it meant the sound of entering home. I walked down the short 7th floor hallway, the floor I lived on, and I opened the door to the stairway and began to climb it. At first I patiently walked up a few floors like a civil resident would, but my childish instincts caved in and I sprinted up the remaining flights of stairs. Once I finally made it to the top, the 14th floor, I walked out onto the fence lined roof. You could see the entire neighborhood from my roof’s view. All of the brick and glass buildings glowed in the setting sunlight. Everything was tinted a golden orange or pink from the sky and sun rays. No one visits the roof much but I still don’t know why. Actually, I rarely visited the roof myself as a kid so I can’t say much on that. But as I gazed out at all of the buildings with all of their residents in them I knew that it wasn’t so much my apartment that mattered, but the families inside them.