I surveyed the empty apartment with wistful eyes. My stomach knotted as I thought of closing the door one last time.
I took a deep breath and slowly gathered my first armful of bags.
This was it. College was over. Time to say goodbye.
I struggled through the front door down the familiar wobbly wooden steps. Hard to believe this is no longer home, I mused. How quickly time flew!
After a sweaty unloading, I headed back for more. It was amazing how much could accumulate after a mere two years of apartment living.
I passed my neighbors' doors and giggled at our first night at the complex. Three overzealous girls trying to make a good impression, ringing doorbells and offering pans of brownies. No one quite knew what to do with us, but we didn't care. It was college! It was an adventure! It was time to be spontaneous and when something flopped, just chalk it up to making a memory!
And did we know how to make memories.
I passed the Pirate Neighbors who somehow thought we were the strange ones despite their nights of strictly Pirate Talk (Arrrgh! Would ye like to join our party, maties, or must we make you walk the plank?) and looked up at Mr. Deeds apartment, who always seemed to pop up right when you needed him (Hauling in groceries? BAM! Deeds was there. Trouble with the hammer? BAM! Deeds was there! Car wedged so tightly against the telephone pole that splinters seemed to prick your shin? BAM! Deeds was there!).
Yes, the memories were flowing and the nostalgia was swelling and right before I reached our door, I stopped in front of Michelle's apartment.
Michelle--a friendly girl with a quick smile and thick brown hair, who always seemed to catch me at the wrong time.
Like when I was finally reaching home after a day on campus and a full bladder and a quick "Hey, how's it going?" was all I could muster without waiting for a reply.
Or in the park when I was fitting in a quick workout and, with a wave and smile, passed her on the sidewalk and kept my heart rate pumping.
And recently--the day before, in fact--as she called "Hey Sara!" from the college paraphernalia superstore and I kept trotting down the hill amidst the throngs of other happy graduates and their families, sending a toothy smile her way as I plowed towards the car, beaming with pride (and stomach grumbling).
Oh no! I thought to myself suddenly. I have been so incredibly rude! She has reached out several times and I have not made time to even have a conversation with her! How completely self-absorbed I've been! I mean, maybe she needs a friend! Or encouragement! We have been neighbors for two years--surely that deserves more than a hurried GREETING now and then!
Guilt began gnawing at me and just when I was feeling really low, it hit me.
And suddenly, I knew just what to do.
I would right this wrong--I would not leave on such a sour note--IT WAS NOT TOO LATE!!!
I rushed into the apartment and began tearing through boxes until I found just what I was looking for--a blank greeting card. Perfect! I squealed. Not too intense, yet thoughtful. Just a little something to let her know I appreciate her and wish her the very best!
Dear Michelle, I wrote, pausing to gather my thoughts, then continued scribbling furiously.
It was impulsive. It was blatant sentimentality. But so help me, I would deliver that card.
I rummaged for Scotch tape and victorious, darted outside.
Quietly, I fastened the card to her door with a hasty MICHELLE swirled on the envelope as a faint smile crossed my lips. She won't even know it's coming! I rejoiced. And when she gets it, I'll be gone so no social awkwardness--just a little bit of good sent her way.
I returned to my apartment, satisfied with my deed and full of a strange closure with that one little act.
An act I would soon come to regret.
(Part 2 to come next week. Enjoy the long weekend, friends!)
Part 2 and Part 3.