Even though it has all my stuff in it, this apartment doesn't quite feel like home yet. I feel like I'm housesitting, like I'm visiting a friend who happens to never be home when I'm here. It's like someone else lives in this apartment, someone who likes all the same books I do and has a stack of Korean ramen in the pantry. Someone who wears the same size clothes as I do and has a picture my nephew finger-painted. I recognize this stuff, but it doesn't feel mine.
I guess maybe I'm too used to living out of a suitcase. I'm used to borrowed spaces and carefully chosen memories; I'm used to temporary, simple, sparse, uncomplicated.
But here, I have all my stuff. I have clothes I haven't worn in years that I didn't even remember I had. I have an entire fridge to fill with foods I like (even though it currently has only taco shells, colby jack cheese, and chocolate milk). I have pictures on the walls of everything I've ever done that's made me happy. I live here.
Everywhere I've lived in the past two years has felt more like an extended-stay hotel than a home, and I can't seem to wrap my mind around the permanence of this move. I can buy a huge picture of the Brooklyn Bridge if I want to because this living room is mine. I can put a single pan in each cupboard because I don't have enough things to fill an entire kitchen myself. I can get a driver's license with my address on it because this is the only address currently associated with my existence.
I'm still waiting for this all to feel real. Maybe when I start making friends I can invite over, or when something breaks and I have to figure out how to fix it myself. Maybe it'll be when I get a dog that's registered under my name or when I have to argue with the cable company over my bill. I just don't feel like this is my actual life. It feels too grown up, too stable.
I'm not saying I'm unhappy; just baffled. When did I get to be a month away from turning twenty-six? How did I end up with a job that enables me to afford an apartment like this all to myself? Who decided it was a good idea to sell Graeter's at the grocery store when there's no one to monitor my eating habits? I feel like just last week I was trying to understand how my shower worked in a foreign country, and now suddenly, I'm living in a parallel universe where I have a microwave and a lease with only my name on it.
Sometimes I'm afraid I might wake up and still be heading to work in Cincinnati, my greatest accomplishment being that I memorized the Dewey Decimal System without being asked. If you had asked fifteen-year-old me what I'd be doing in ten years, never in a million years would she have guessed this. I wish I could go back and write her a little note, tell her to hold on tight because life is going to go places she'll never imagine. And one day, she'll be sitting in a little apartment in California, and the only thing she'll know for sure about her life is that it's awfully blessed.