I remember this vividly. The smell of fresh paint - pungent, tantalizingly clean. The sting of lingering turpentine in my eyes. The starkness of freshly-distempered walls and the surgical precision with which every angle and vertex of every door and window stood out. The unsettling sense of emptiness and the mute invitation it extended – come, settle in, fill all this up.
I grew up in several houses. By the time I was eighteen and ready to go to college, I had lived in five apartments. It’s something I’ll always be grateful for, to the organization Dad is with. I’m very sure that’s where my ability to adapt has its beginnings. I recall getting very excited when we moved onto the second floor of our new building from our fourth-floor apartment in another part of the colony, because things suddenly appeared so much larger and closer from windows and balconies.
And each time we stepped into a new house for the first time, I smelt fresh paint, touched the blank smoothness of the walls, and felt a muffled sense of anticipation and excitement for all that this blankness and newness was capable of becoming.
Tonight, when I stepped into my apartment, my own apartment, for the very first time, I felt it all again.
When did all the growing-up in between happen, though?
Life comes full circle in so many ways. Exactly fifty-three weeks ago, I was at the beginning of a friendship which would morph into a relationship that changed life as I knew it. I didn’t know it back then, of course, the fact that I was at the beginning of anything at all. I realised that much later…and by the time I did, it was over.
It’s been exactly six months since. Tonight, gazing at the starkness around me (you know, the sort which makes every thing stand out in alarming contrast) I wonder if there ever was anything to have realizations about.
I find myself packing up and moving every May, every year. I packed and moved to College. I packed and moved every year that I was an undergrad. I packed and moved to begin my first job. I packed and moved when I ended my first job and began life as a postgrad. I packed and moved to intern over the summer that followed. I packed and moved to a random corner of the country to begin work full-time. I’ve packed and moved again.
Each time, in May.
I have a history of sudden departures. I am beginning to feel I prefer it that way. And, like the sense of emptiness in a freshly-painted house waiting to be moved into, that feeling is unsettling.