Next week we sign our final lease with our apartment complex, signifying the twelve month mark before Jena and I depart Kalamazoo for where ever the hell I wind up going to grad school. It’s a bittersweet feeling. Regardless of how far you’ve come and how much you’ve done, you always leave a certain amount of untapped potential behind in a city, or even in an apartment. I remember moving in and thinking about all my plans for this place. There would be parties, both of the dinner type and the binge-drinking variety. I would keep a stunningly organized kitchen and, for the first time with any apartment I’d ever had, actually paint the walls. I imagined burgundy. Something warm that caught the lamp light well in the evenings. We’d get more adult furniture and I’d cook meals, most of which would turn out well but a few would result in emergency pizza. Ultimately some of these things happened and some didn’t, which is to be expected of expectations. We have nicer stuff but the same awful couch. Parties were had, but fewer as time went on. The walls are still white and, with only twelve months left, there doesn’t seem any sense in painting them now.
Eventually there’ll be a new apartment in Iowa City, Syracuse, Ann Arbor, or Madison—or in whichever state and city we land—and the day I unpack my things and reassemble my desk, I’ll be excited about all the potential this new place has. Maybe this time there will be an herb garden on the balcony. Maybe I’ll finally free myself from the goddamnedable white walls that have plagued my adulthood. For all of its ups and downs—and when it comes to Kalamazoo, it’s been mostly ups—my life has been spent in transit and white walls are a uncomfortable reminder of that. This isn’t home. This is only the place you’re staying until you find home. Though I suppose that’s a bit on the sentimental side. I might have watched too many episodes of Quantum Leap when I was a kid.