#1A 4910 50th avenue.
I have always had the desire to keep my life in a tidy little suitcase. Filled with prize possessions and nothing else. Ready to take off at a moment’s notice. As a child, it was easy to fill that brass-buckle briefcase with knick-knacks. A pink bear, a polaroid camera, a framed photograph of two girls in a wagon. An assortment of Jelly Dolls, Pokemon figures, Legos. A book or two, although I have troubles now remember what my favorites were.
As I grew older, it grew.
My first apartment – exactly whatever girl dreamed of – a suite above and art gallery. It was in historic downtown Lacombe. Mine was the only suite in the three-story house and was up a flight of 20 stairs. The stairs were green and flowered carpet, worn in the center from the ghosts of years gone by. The landing, which broke from carpet to hardwood, was three doors. One that led to a standing collection of the towns features artist, the middle to the ever-changing mood of the curator (a portly old woman, who on my first day brought me stale chocolates), and the left and final door. My door.
Which opened to a ridiculously extensive one-room suite. It had a real brick wall on the outside and a gas fireplace. The bathroom was secluded and raised and had a massive tub. One I could actually fit in. The bedroom had a walk in closet and huge window. I filled it with all the things an adult should have. I was 18, but I was still playing house. Three bookshelves (I had enough books back then), a matching wooden couch/chair/table, a knock off kitchen aid.
The truth of the matter is that while that apartment was gorgeous, the year I spent there was frightening and tiring. When I signed the lease in May, just after my 18th birthday, I just wanted to get out of my mother’s house. I was firmly against going back to school after grade 12.
I didn’t have internet, so I rewatched my DVD’suntil they were raw. I think I watched Criminal Minds (all six seasons) at least four times. I don’t think I ever turned on the fireplace, scared of burning the house to the ground. I never had friends over, afraid of being reprimanded for talking. I used to listen to the curator gossip with customers, so I knew she would be able to hear me. The downstairs was a dentist clinic, and the gallery opened at 10, so I made all my noise before anyone arrived. I wouldn’t shower in the morning if it was after 8. If I didn’t work, I would barely move – afraid to cause any noise. I took on another job just so I wouldn’t have to be home.
When people talk about depression, that apartment is what I think about.
I don’t know if I was depressed. I don’t think I was. But I was sad, definitely. And utterly stagnant. My friends fell out of my life, quickly and without any struggle. I spent some days with my mother and father, but not enough. I was tired all the time, I was furious at work, I barely ate and when I did it wasn’t healthy food.
I developed the bad habit of not replying to text messages. Something that, five years later, I am notorious for. I was always an introvert, but living within the four walls of that suite slowly killed me. I still have hard days. You know the ones where the walls of the house seem like a scene from Indiana Jones and I desperately flee them, only to walk in meandering circles like a lame pony. Making excuses not to go home.
That year of my life is trying to think about, not because I am emotionally scared, but because I spent the entire of it not thinking. I didn’t have any thoughts to later remember. I said earlier that I was stagnant. I wasn’t taking any movements to the future, I was just existing.
And I swore, in May the following year, that I would stop just existing and start living.
And I’m still working on that.