Today I handed in the keys to my apartment.
I no longer live on Garden Street...or technically even in Bellingham. It's been nearly 5 years since I followed love West, beyond the plains, the desert, and over the mountains to the edge of the continent. I'll never forget the trip that brought me here. Totaling my beloved Jeep in the deserted landscape of eastern Oregon and finally arriving in Bellingham on a rainy Thanksgiving eve just before midnight. I curled up on the floor with my husband–newlyweds in a new place, starting their new life. Though our belongings were few, we had so much to be thankful for that night.
Life on Garden Street was beautiful for many months. We upgraded apartments, moving 2 blocks closer to campus. Our jobs changed. We changed. When we divorced I remained on Garden Street. My attitude toward Bellingham became more and more bi-polar. My dear quirky city, you are so unique and wonderful, but I never could handle your winter rain and year-round cold sea breezes. Some days I loved it there so much that I would cry as I flew down the hill on my bike–snowy mountain views filling my eyes. Other days I railed against its weather–dreaming of the desert, the rockies, the midwest–anywhere but Bellingham.
For the first time as an adult I feel like I have a home. I have friends here. Tentative, shallow roots tingle in my feet when I run the streets, trails, and paths of this little place. But now, this place is also a place of memory. The good days intermingled with the pain. I can't go anywhere here without remembering. A sense of loss pervades almost everything and everywhere. My love-hate emotions for Bellingham have intensified. I've talked about escaping for over a year now and yet...I have remained.
Through a domino series of choices and events I found myself moving out of my Garden Street apartment without any plans of where to go next. Boxes stacked at a friends place show that I am a life in transition–paused between here and there. Last night I curled up on the floor in an empty apartment–alone, on the brink of a new life. I still have many things to be thankful for, but instead I cried.
A chapter has ended. My Garden Street Days are over. This morning I turned the page and found that the next chapter has not yet been written. It is up to me to write it. I only hope that I find just the right words to begin with.