When my partner and I left Chicago for San Francisco, we decided to hold off on moving in together. We hadn’t been dating for very long and wanted to establish our own, independent selves and lives in the new city. Plus, I had never lived by myself. I was enamored with the idea of creating my very own home, with no bathrooms to share or aesthetics to clash. I fixed my own appliances (with a little assistance from YouTube) and never split the rent or the bills for the wifi. My small studio quickly became a symbol of my growing independence and self-sufficiency.
Fast-forward two years.
My near-empty studio apartment is filled with cardboard boxes and remnants of packing tape. My partner and I are moving in together tomorrow and I couldn’t be more excited. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t experiencing some sadness and nostalgia, too. My tiny studio has developed my confidence in huge ways, as I hoped it would. It’s where I finally decided to quit my draining corporate gig after crying on the bathroom floor for an hour. While sitting at the desk in the corner, I officially started my own business. Each item, from the seashell on the windowsill to the watercolor leaned against the wall, is personally meaningful and has been purposefully placed.
When my partner and I first started the moving process, we took an inventory of all of our belongings and proceeded to categorize them into three groups: keep, toss, donate. I said goodbye to a plant I purchased after getting promoted. I dragged an ancient rug stained with wine and nail polish spills from countless girls’ nights to the dumpster. A massive suitcase I lugged around Europe after graduating from college went to Goodwill. My first purchase for my studio — a coffee maker, of course — was gifted to a girlfriend because my partner had a better one.
“Though I knew I had to let objects like the rug and suitcase go, I had to remind myself that discarding them didn’t mean I was also tossing out the memories or the meaning behind them.”
I laughed when he put his Tom Brady poster in the “keep” pile, only to realize seconds later that he was actually serious about hanging it up in our new home. I erupted in frustration when he suggested editing my extensive crystal collection. After adamantly touting the beautiful pink color and relaxing vibe of rose quartz, he gently took it from me and placed with the items we’re keeping. “Babe, if it really matters that much to you, then it matters to me,” he said.
Does my rose quartz really matter to him? Honestly, I doubt it. But in many ways, the objects we struggled to agree on whether to keep, toss, or donate actually highlighted the fact that we are both unique, strong-willed, and independent individuals. This was a sweet realization that the personal characteristics I’ve collected over the past two years in my studio (along with the crystals) aren’t going anywhere.
Though I knew I had to let objects like the rug and suitcase go, I had to remind myself that discarding them didn’t mean I was also tossing out the memories or the meaning behind them. Just because I was vacating my studio, didn’t mean I was parting with my independence. In fact, I have a feeling it will remain in the “keep” pile for a long time.