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On my drive to the grocery store each week, I pass my friend's old apartment. The other night the light in the window was on and every moment I spent there came rushing back to me. It felt so strange to think that someone else lives there now. He hasn't lived there in six years, I haven't spoken to him in five years. It was the first apartment I got properly drunk in. My belly would fill with butterflies any time I was there and the boy who I had a crush on at the time was too. So many memories inside such a small one-bedroom apartment. Memories that I haven't thought about for years. A version of myself that I haven't thought about in just as long. She was too wide-eyed to realize much beyond her own little corner of the world.


It's funny to think about places that used to be so prominent in my life. Places that so carefully and quietly molded me into the person I am yet I'll never be able to step foot into them again. The beach house we stayed at every summer from the time I was born until my senior year of high school. The Excursion my best friend's family owned that safely transported me over countless state lines and to almost every day of school. Both of my old houses: Ridgeview Drive; where I learned how to ride a bike and catch fireflies, and Hilltop Road; where I learned how incredibly cruel and, simultaneously, kind life can be. These places were all so safe, so welcoming. They were homes.

At some point, you wake up and remember that those homes that kept you safe and warm aren't yours anymore. They are busy providing those comforts to somebody else. Part of me is jealous of those people. They don't know how special that place is. How can I be sure that they are treating it well? It's a nostalgia that hurts just as much as it heals.

As a person with a tendency to cling (to any and all nouns), I have a hard time letting go, which is particularly exasperated with people and places that have in some way grown to feel like a home to me. Thankfully, with people, the feeling is few and far between. Places, on the other hand, are fleeting. I've learned that the bittersweet way, many times over.

The Eagle Tavern is a place that sort of encapsulates this whole feeling for me. The Tavern was a building that defined a lot of my existence. It's where my parents met, where my family celebrated birthdays and held funeral luncheons. It was my dad's life until the end of his own. My work there funded me through college. The phone number was the only one, besides our landline, that I'd memorized as a kid. And then one day, mid-spring in 2020, it was gone. The structure is still there, sure, but not a drop of the home I grew to find so much stability and comfort in is there. In some small way, I wouldn't exist if it hadn't existed, and now that it's gone a piece of my life feels immeasurably different.


I think the hardest part of unlearning a home that was such a staple is kicking the habit of it. For me, it stings the most in the beginning when I'm learning a new route home instead of the one I've driven for years. Having to remind myself that I can't just walk into the restaurant that I've walked into for decades and be greeted with faces who know and care about me. Driving by and seeing lights on through the windows of living rooms I used to frequent and remembering that I don't anymore. Those moments all feel so silly and small yet they hold so much inside them. It's friendships and crushes and heartbreaks and tears and inside jokes - a lot of which simply don't exist anywhere anymore. It feels so jarring to view personal growth through the lens of all the places that helped push that growth along, but tonight I'm choosing to find comfort in it. The growth they provided me with is permanent and I can only hope that all the homes I'm so grateful for continue to nurture everyone who steps through their doors.

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