I used to live in a fantastic apartment overlooking Cheesman Park near the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver. At least once a week I dream that I am back living in my old apartment, that something miraculous worked out and I didn't lose it.
I stopped on the corner of Lafayette and 12th, one block away, to have a cigarette. I was steeling myself for what I knew was going to be difficult. Going back into my old building was going to bring up emotions that I wasn't sure I was ready to handle. Just being in the old neighborhood was causing a lump in my throat and I was on the verge of tears. I considered turning around and getting back on the bus.
I couldn't turn around though. I had committed to going to a birthday pre-party. My friend and former roommate was having a small gathering of his close friends at home before they went out to the club for the actual celebration. Another friend that I hadn't seen who was going to be at the party is moving back to Spain. This would be my last opportunity to see him before he leaves the country.
I haven't been to any form of party or group gathering in almost a year and my anxiety was running on high, despite taking a Klonopin prior to going. I arrived before the rest of the group which I'm grateful for as it gave me some time to catch up with my old roommate without the added anxiety of lots of people. I wasn't going to be able to stay long because the buses don't run late where I'm currently staying. By the time the rest of the guests had arrived, I only had a few minutes to visit before I had to catch the bus home. It was good to see friendly, familiar faces, but it was also good to get out of there when I did.
I don't know if it was a good idea to go back to my old apartment, the place I'd called home for the greater part of a decade, the place I lost due to a bipolar manic episode. It felt so strange to look at the shell of what was my home for so many years.
It looks almost exactly the way I left it. My television on the wall, my dining room set, my couch and ottoman, all sitting in exactly the place I left them when I moved out almost a year ago. The five magnets that I left on the fridge were still there. They were the only magnets on the fridge. A frog and a question, "time for change?"
I hadn't remembered leaving those magnets on the fridge and seeing them there felt like I was in a time warp. It was as though I had left myself a message from another dimension and the message was being delivered to me now.
Maybe it's finally time in my grieving process to honestly look at my old home, what it meant to me, and what it means to have lost it. My therapist reminded me that losing one's home is a traumatic experience, and when combined with all the other loss I've seen in the last year, it's no great surprise that I'm not handling it all that well.
The apartment had been a lucky find in the winter of 2005 when a couple of friends and I moved out to Denver from Massachusetts. I had always felt that I'd hoodwinked someone into letting me live there and that once I was found out, it would be taken away from me. I felt that it was the nicest place I would ever have in my life. Who knows. Right now that still feels true.
Even though it was really hard to go and be around people in a social context, and even though it was torturous to be in my old apartment, I managed to get through it. My life as it was there is over. There's no going back.