“Hejdå, good old apartment, thanks for everything,” I said, and if you had been standing where J was, you would have heard what she heard: that my voice did crack a little. When J took a step back inside she saw the same thing I saw, looking at her: A tiny little tear in the corner of the eye.
We looked at the empty apartment, and the bookshelf we had built on the wall in the back. That one empty, too, of course, because we had just spent two days putting them in place on another book shelf some 18 kilometers further north, on the other side of the city.
A few days ago, I paid a visit to the gym – which in itself is newsworthy these days – to say goodbye. I did one last workout at the gym, worked up a sweat, and disappeared into the sauna like I’d done probably a hundred times before.
In fact, being a realist, I stopped telling my friends I was going to the gym about a year ago when I realized that I was mostly going to the sauna, with a workout on the side.
But because I knew we’d move the next day, and that my membership only gets me in at one franchise, and that 18 kilometers was just way too far to travel for a sauna – although an excellent excuse for never working out – I wanted to go back and say hejdå to the gym.
After the sauna, I took in the atmosphere, thinking about all the fat asses I’d seen at the gym, the guy on the elliptical, trying to shake his limbs off, the pregnant woman on the treadmill, running uphill, way uphill, straight up in fact, and the two Finns who came out of nowhere, took my locker twice in a row, and then disappeared again.
And how I had a water bottle hidden in a small pocket in the wall for months.
Oh, the locker. I always had the same locker. Except for those two times in the last month when the two Finnish guys had taken my locker, I think I had the same one, in the back, closest to the shower (and sauna), all but three or four times. It was my locker.
Locker number 60.
Funny, then, that I had no idea what the number was until my last workout, when I checked it on purpose, to make a note. To say goodbye.
When we moved from Helsinki to Stockholm five years ago – time truly flies – I followed the moving van back to Finland, to take care of some of the last things in our apartment. I also went for a run, a last run, around the Olympic stadium track.
When I moved to Sweden originally 11 years ago – which would make me 14 years old at the time? – I remember taking one last peek inside the apartment where I had lived first as a pre-teen and then as a twenty-something. I closed the door and ran down the stairs, like thousands of times before. The goal was always to make it to the front door some 23 steps below pur apartment before I heard our door get shut
I always did. I’d make it in four jumps.
Moving changes everything. It does feel like a new start, a time for reinventing myself. Ourselves. Everything’s different to the point where J and I have even switched sides in our bed.
My son had his best friend over for one last time last week, too. Not one last time because were were moving but because he is. They’ve know each other for four years which is an amazingly long time for a couple of six-year-olds. They had a great time, they played all day, watched movies, ate ice cream, and read comics together.
But they probably didn’t see their fondest memories flash by their eyes when it was time to say hejdå, like J and I saw our kids running towards the door, to give us a hug whenever we came home, or how they ran outside with their buddies (all moved out of the building now) when we stood at the door for the last time.
I know H will miss his buddy and we’ll try to stay in touch.
I also know that I was on second grade when my absolutely best buddy moved to the next suburb, which meant changing schools which meant that he moved to the moon. I remember going over to his house for sleepover once.
Once. I think I know where he is today, because our professional paths have almost crossed once. Maybe I’ll look him up on Facebook.
A few years later, I walked down the hill with my then absolutely best buddy, “Egu”, on the last day of school, just like on about 250 other days of the year. It was a nice and sunny day – better than most we’ve had this summer, just to note here – and we were talking about something, probably the cutest girl in class or music, when we came to the intersection where he’d take a left, and I’d continue down the hill.
He said, “OK, bye now.”
“See ya,” I said.
When I came home, some 200 meters later, my parents were waiting for me with a big van. I jumped in, and we moved our belongings to Joensuu, 440 kilometers from Helsinki.
In the three years before our move, I saw “Egu” on 954 days. That’s obviously just an approximation, based on the fact that we went to the same school for three years, and hung out some even in the summers.
I’ve never seen him since I got on that white van.
So, maybe I’ll never buy anything at the grocery store / post office I ran to to get basic breakfast items (and toilet paper) when J spent the night for the first time, maybe I’ll never go jogging on the boardwalk down by the water, and maybe I’ll never work out at that gym again.
I haven’t been to our new gym yet, so I don’t know what locker number 60 looks like there, or where it is in the dressing room. And of course, it doesn’t matter, I’ll find a new locker to be mine.
I’m not saying moving is bad. I’m just saying that it changes things.
Leaving things behind also makes it easier for me to keep the sushi place on the shit list.