Start by decluttering. Get rid of anything and everything that doesn’t suit you. Sell your couch, sell your bed, sell your desk, give away your dining room set to that friend who’s been struggling. Pack up the plates, cups and cutlery. Sell your blender, toaster and microwave. Leave the apartment as clean as the day you moved in.
Give away all the clothes you don’t wear. That dress you bought three years ago “just in case…”, those jeans that haven’t fit since high school, that skirt your friends always said made you look antiquated. Donate your ten pairs of black shoes and the heels you’ve only worn once.
Keep only what you can fit into a backpack. Some jeans, a few shirts and a skirt or two. Keep the sweater your father bought on his last business trip. Keep your grandfather’s old flannel and the hat he used to wear in the summer. Keep as little as you can, but make it count. Keep the dress the last boy you kissed said you looked beautiful in – maybe someday someone else will think you look beautiful too. Keep all your socks and underwear…you’ll need those.
Say goodbye to friends with the understanding that you might never see them again. Throw a party. Throw six parties. Get drunk on wine and eat expensive cheese on the floor of your bare living room. Accept the feeling of emptiness. Fight back the tears as one by one they walk out the door. Hug them tighter than you’ve ever hugged them before and laugh at how emotional you’re being. “Of course I’m fine”, you’ll say as the door shuts behind them. Goodbyes still hurt, even if it’s the hundredth one.
Leave behind the people who have done you wrong. Forget about that ex-boyfriend who cheated on you, the best friend who changed too much, the boy who ghosted, the friends who only texted you when they needed your help. Forget about convenient friendships. Forget about meaningless relationships. Forget about him, her and them. Don’t let go slowly. Do it vigorously. Let there be sparks. Some bridges were meant to be burned.
Spend your last night on a friend’s couch and wear her pajamas. Toss and turn until you can’t handle the silence anymore and go outside. Take note of every detail you overlooked before but now seems unavoidable. The way the pharmacy’s neon light twitches every eight seconds. The way the streetlights dim and turn off at exactly 5:56am. The way taxi drivers gather around a coffee cart and share stories about their day. Watch your breath as it fogs up while you pace back and forth. Go back inside feeling nostalgic for a place you haven’t left yet. Sleep for two hours and wake up to the smell of fresh coffee.
Grab your bags and head to the airport. Order one more meal before rushing to the security gate with half of it stuffed in your purse as a reminder of where you came from and why you decided to leave. Close your eyes and breathe in. Think about what’s being left behind. Breathe out. Think about what lays ahead. Breathe in. Don’t dwell on what isn’t, but prepare for what’s about to be. Breathe out. Get on that plane and go