The housewares section of Honest Ed’s is dominated by large mirrors which hang at every angle, making the bounds of the discount store infinite. The deals here are so good they violate even the most basic and fundamental laws of the space-time continuum. The building was last renovated twenty or thirty years ago, it is obvious, and I’m reminded powerfully of a past I never lived; or, if I did, one that is at the very least hazy and inconsistent, so that it is lost to me now. Nostalgia hangs in the air like a thick cloud: pungent and choking.
In an unexpected twist, I experience a similar sensation later that night, returning to our abandoned (and nearly empty) former apartment. This nostalgia, however, is more pertinent. Actions are buried deep within my muscle memory, so that, even as I trained the cats, I have the urgent need to be cautious when I am pushing back and unlocking the door, even though I know nothing waits for me. I turn to the right in an effort to hang up my coat, but the wall is stripped and even the plugs are gone. Most depressingly, the kitchen is completely empty except for a bare dresser, an unfolded card table, and the remains of Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner. Our boots on the wood and tile floors are met with hollow echoes.
No matter the circumstances a home is a home, and you can’t leave it mentally as immediately as you can physically. The routines cement themselves in your subconscious, patterning your brain with paths as delicate of those on microchips. Perhaps we still live there until we’re finally settled in our new place.
I don’t want to see our first apartment like this. For all of its problems (and there were many, and they were significant), it was also the first place we lived. We moved there out of need, but we lived there for a year. Many fine things happened. I don’t want to go into too much detail; this post is probably already too sentimental.