My studio apartment, number 4.
Today I'm officially no longer a Community resident. It was a little depressing doing my final walk-through, cleaning and turning in my keys. That apartment was mine. All mine. My first own apartment. The first place I've ever lived that I could do whatever I wanted with and not worry about someone else's opinion. I could walk around naked, come and go at any hour, bring anyone home at any time, keep anything in the fridge, know that the cleaning I did was because of my messes, and watch Planet Earth every night without feeling like a super nerd.
I did a lot of growing up in that apartment. I became single for the first time in 7 years. I made friends with (...and made out with) my neighbors. I stayed in one place for a year, a whole lease. I bought curtains and dishes and I refinished the counter. I had a window planter for herbs and a fish tank. The mail coming in was all for me (except sometimes it was for my neighbor in #14) and I was there long enough for the non-profits I used to donate money to find me. I got jury duty and rode the old-fashioned lime green Community bike downtown. I had a running path in Balboa Park, waved to the same bums every time and could walk to at least 2 Starbucks, 2 damn fine pizza places, and the Zoo. I escaped arguably the most unhealthy living situation and gave Chloe a space free of other cats (except for the one time I tried introducing her to my neighbor's cat), where she wouldn't be forced to live under my bed. I lived through unemployment and found strength deep enough to end my relationship. I had sleepovers with friends and family and broke my post-breakup dry spell. I loved that apartment like it was a best friend.
Fortunately I'm really liking my new apartment. It helps a lot that my cat is so happy with all the new space and carpet (she never did learn to run on hardwood with her claws retracted) and I have a roommate I already liked and got along with. I was slightly worried that after a year of living alone I would feel less adult by moving in with a roommate but he's so responsible (and clean!) that this is a completely different experience from what I had in the past. It's OK that I'm not in my favorite part of San Diego anymore; I can always go back. And sometimes it's just worth it to leave, even if it will be terribly missed.