Today, Henrik packed our things into a truck and began the long drive back to Michigan. My apartment is eerily quiet; no Sylvie scratching her silvery paw beneath the door, no clicking of Henrik's computer keys in the next room, no soft bubbling of water for tea on the stove. I have six more days in the apartment I've called my home for two years, the first real home Henrik and I created together. I moved here in what felt like a flurry of change—I had just graduated from college, was about to begin teaching, and was heading completely across the country to do so—and amidst all the chaos, this place was my refuge. The emptiness now is as it was when we first moved in. Then, our few belongings had been stuffed easily in the back of Henrik's car. I was fasting for Ramadan when we moved in, and I brought with me the few foods from the nearby Trader Joe's that I had purchased with the last of my savings—bananas, oatmeal, and peanut butter. We ate on the floor, off paper plates. We watched The Room to welcome us to the Bay.
Next year will be different. Henrik and I won't be living together; he will be attending school in Michigan, and I in North Carolina. Our homes will be many—each others' apartments, our parents' houses, the places we go for the summer. It will be college again, meaning extra toothbrushes and shampoo and sweaters left in a drawer for weekend visits, meaning falling asleep with the warmth of a cell-phone pressed against your cheek instead of a sleepy kiss. I know it's not forever—our programs are only two years—but I can't help but feel a tiny twinge of sadness. And while I'm looking forward to Raleigh, it isn't the same. Oakland is where I was born, and it is where I want to keep coming home to.
I am excited for new beginnings, I am. I just get a little sad when I look around now and find my home gone, knowing it's tucked into a moving van heading far away.