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Mark says goodbye to his familiar old apartment and neighborhood

I woke with a start to the sight of empty, cavernous blue walls that had just yesterday held my bookshelves, now barren. Pale dawn light seeped in through the curtainless windows. The rhythmic scraping of furniture across worn chestnut floors made me flinch. Downstairs, the symphony of packing tape screeching and boxes being sealed had already begun. I slowly rose from the creaky twin bed that had seen me through countless sleepless nights and milestones, a faithful companion for the past ten years of my life. Soon it would be destroyed, tossed onto an overflowing landfill, forgotten. I ran my fingers over the nicks and scratches on the headboard one last time, saying goodbye. Along with it, I was leaving my room, my apartment that harbored memories of my earliest days—tracing crayon masterpieces on the doors as a toddler, taking my first steps across the scuffed hardwood floors. I was leaving my school, my friends, my life all behind.

I gazed out the balcony window, watching as the inky canvas of night sky transformed into a vibrant watercolor painting of pinks, oranges and yellows. Wispy clouds drifted lazily overhead, illuminated with fiery brilliance as if edged in molten gold by the awakening sun. Below, Yellowstone Playground sprawled, a treasured place I had visited every day for nearly a decade of my childhood. As dawn’s glow washed over the playground, memories flooded back. The monkey bars, their rungs worn smooth by my sweaty palms during endless summer afternoons spent honing my skills, now sat empty and silent. The sandbox, holding faint shadows of the elaborate castles and fairytale cities I built only to vanish overnight, appeared untouched by human hands. The swing sets creaked ever so slightly, their rusted chains swaying in the morning breeze after years of use. The basketball courts with their faded paint lines lay dormant, devoid of the perpetual dribbling of balls.

The rising sun’s rays stretched across Yellowstone, illuminating the landmarks of my childhood adventures like a bittersweet spotlight. The chains on the swing set glimmered as the light struck the rusted metal links. The sandbox seemed to glow like a treasure chest full of memories buried just beneath the surface. Even the cracked asphalt of the basketball court appeared less worn, momentarily renewed by the dawn. As the City That Never Sleeps began to fall silent, I said one final silent goodbye to the playground where skinned knees and first crushes lived alongside hide-and-seek victories and friendships forged. This chapter of my life in this place had come to a close, but the memories would always be a part of me.

Even the cracked asphalt of the basketball court appeared less worn, momentarily renewed by the dawn.

Just then, the rumbling of a truck engine shattered the quiet reverie of the morning. I gazed down to see an oversized moving truck turn the corner, its worn tires crunching on the broken concrete outside our building. Stamped on the truck’s side I could barely make out the words I knew were hidden beneath the dusty grime of long highways: BELLA’S MOVERS said a faded print on the side. The worn truck pulled to a stop, signaling it was here for its solemn duty— to transport those few precious boxes that contained my childhood within their fragile walls of bubble wrap and styrofoam. As the movers loaded the back of the truck, I felt a swell of memories and a lump form in my throat. My posters, books, toys—my whole world was being taken away in that truck. I realized my years of childhood innocence playing in this playground were well and truly over, about to vanish into the rearview mirror. The truck’s engine revved, ready to drive my memories away to whatever unknowns lay ahead next in my life’s journey. I took one last long look at my beloved playground, knowing that while my memories could leave this place, they would always dwell deep within my heart.

*          *.         *

The echo of my footsteps reverberated off the bare walls and hardwood floors as I did one final walkthrough of my new apartment. Everything was so clean: sharp edges and blank canvas. Moving turned out to be one of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced in my young life thus far. Leaving the comfort and familiarity of my childhood home felt like being ripped from a warm, soft cocoon and plunged into an odyssey of discovery tinged with loneliness and longing. I would be leaving behind my circle of beloved childhood friends, the faded floral wallpaper in my bedroom that I had memorized over years of lying in bed, the creaky wooden steps leading downstairs that knew my footsteps by heart, the worn but comfortable furnishings that had loyally served me since before I could remember. I would miss our cozy kitchen, scene of so many batches of homemade cookies and late-night snacks, and our living room where we sat together and watched movies. My mother assured me my well-loved toys and stuffed animals would have a new life with my young cousin, and that having a new, bigger home was something to feel proud of. However, as I hesitantly entered our new home for the very first time, the soaring ceilings and cavernous rooms felt cold and sterile. I felt small, insignificant, and out of place amidst the grand, gilded furnishings and lavish new lifestyle I was being introduced to. Though this towering new dwelling was now technically my home, at first I just felt deeply homesick within its unfamiliar walls, longing for the warm familiarity of my childhood abode.


The barren rooms echoed hollowly with each footfall, devoid of any semblance of hominess or personality. This dwelling was but an empty vessel, a blank canvas awaiting my touch. I embarked upon the process of imprinting my essence, commencing with adorning the stark white walls with memories encapsulated in photographs—beloved visages of friends and family, journeys to far-flung lands, moments crystallized in time. The mattress was bedecked in my favored bedclothes, enfolding me in a semblance of familiarity and comfort. As the first week drew to a close, the erstwhile sterile environs began to transfigure into warmer, more inhabited quarters. Knickknacks blossomed upon the shelves, reading materials amassed atop the coffee table, vestiges of home cooking clustered beside the sink. I had friends, new and old. I watched the sunrise, welcoming my new life, emerging from a cocoon of bright pinks and oranges. Piece by piece, personalized flourish by flourish, my new abode metamorphosed from an unadorned shell into a nest imbued with the unique patina of my life.