Look at the boxes crammed impossibly into a U-Haul, and marvel at the way your life can take up so little space, but still somehow include so much unnecessary shit. Find a tiny, cramped studio apartment that costs more than your life is worth. It’s the smallest damn room you’ve ever seen. Tell yourself this will make you feel less alone.
Unpack. Wonder where the hell your bowls are, and why you suddenly have so many towels. Did they multiply on the way here? What could you even dry with this many towels?
Look up the crime statistics for your new neighborhood. Nothing’s worse than not knowing, right?
(Actually, do NOT do this. Worst. Idea. Ever. Turns out the only thing worse than not knowing is knowing.)
Cry the first time it rains. Watch the drops run down your window. Call your best friend from home, and they’ll cry too. Wonder what the hell you’re doing there.
Get lost in the worst possible part of town. Wish you could throttle the makers of Google maps for not including an “avoid being murdered” option in the settings
Be naked whenever you want. Seriously: this is the first time in your life not living with family or roommates, so dance naked. Really get into it.
Discover your blinds are not as private as you once believed they were. Keep dancing naked anyway.
Stay in. Hide away. Watch life happen out your bedroom window.
Go out. Go out, go out, go out. Breathe in. Go out.
Join a running group. Join a book club. Talk to the bartender longer than strictly necessary. Smile at someone on the corner. Wonder with each “hello” if this is going to be the stranger who turns out to be an axe murderer. Say hello anyway.
Wake up with a stranger in your bed. You know better than to trust them, but it is snowing outside and they are so warm. Roll into their arms and just let go.
Get a plant. (Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but this is a new town, a new you, and whatever your botanical history, you are NOT going to kill this plant! Well, maybe. But you can try.)
Drift through the fall and the undertow of winter. Feel the temperature dropping and the slip of days. Breathe deep. Layer up.
Get drunk with new friends. Watch your breath and the city lights spinning above your head, and laugh for no reason other than the fact that you are no longer afraid in the way you once were.
Sit on the couch you got for free while your friends from home move on with their lives. They don’t mean to, but it will feel like they are leaving you behind. It will sting, but not as much as it once might have. You are leaving them behind too, and that’s okay.
Lose yourself in the new, unfamiliar, winding streets to find things. Your favorite brunch place, a cheap dry cleaners, a dive bar with unbelievable music, the fastest route to the park. Claim them as your own.
Get really messed up. Stay out all night with almost-friends and find yourself on the banks of the river at 5am waiting for the sunrise. Kiss a dark-haired stranger as the first rays creep into the eastern sky, and know they will be a mistake. Follow them home anyway.
Realize, with a spark of excitement and a pang of sadness, that it has been a year. And it is time to leave again.
When everything is packed and the walls are blank, take a minute to stand still in the space that changed you. The late night tears, the new friends, the cheap wine, the drunken cab rides home. The long distance phone calls and the people who got you through it. The way the light looks in late afternoon on the streets outside your window. The nights you were lonely, and the ways you were brave. Take it in. You are alive; you survived. You were here.