We unloaded and returned the U-Haul on time. Back at the apartment, I surveyed a maze of marked boxes and an ungodly amount of work yet to be done. My mood swung from one extreme to the other. I marveled at the first sunset at my new apartment but grieved the last sunrise at my old house. I felt instant regret and fear while trying to accept reality. I told myself this was the best thing to do, a new chapter, my journey, and whatever other affirming clichés I could think of.

My youngest child left, but my oldest stayed overnight, cleaned one of the bathrooms, and showered while I made pallets on the floor. I soaked in the tub, covered my face with my washcloth, cried, prayed, and rejoiced. I did it! I freed myself from toxicity. I made myself comfortable on the floor and exhaled. It was unexpected quietness in my strange new surroundings. I was suspicious and waiting for a force of negative energy to disrupt it; that’s what I’m used to. But I was in the grasp of calmness, not calamity, and felt unafraid. I eased into the quietness and wondered if this was the peace I had sought in vain for decades. No, it couldn’t be, not this soon. I was too tired to wonder. I thanked God for everything and slept through the night, all night, in the same position.

The sun woke us up. The morning was quiet. This new sensation I felt, peace—I guess, lingered. The chances of my estranged spouse popping up and mistreating me were zero. We organized the chaos, placed boxes in their proper rooms, shopped for necessities and supplies, and set up the Tv. My apartment was the biggest, cheapest, and oldest. The old girl had character, experienced good memories, was once full of life, and needed another chance to shine. I could relate. We had a lot in common. We both needed lots of work, fixing up, and love, with mine being self-love.

My oldest went back home and to work. I continued cleaning until it became overwhelming. I am not a spring chicken, and my physical fatigue kicked in. This is day two, and it was already too much. It was clear that the landlord didn’t do what was promised.  I didn’t ask; I told the landlord I hired a cleaning person and requested the fee be deducted from the rent, and she agreed. The cleaning crew came, cleaned this neglected, dusty apartment, and made the old girl look bright, colorful, and fresh. I felt relieved, motivated, and lighter.

My sisters came to help. We shopped, checked everything off my endless lists, ate take-out morning, noon, and night, watched Tv, drank wine, gorged on junk food, and then crashed on pallets. Window treatments, pictures, and mirrors went up, some for decoration and some to hide eyesores. Brand new dishes, pots and pans, colored-coordinated towels, utensils, and a stocked refrigerator completed the kitchen.

After two days of constant activity, sisterhood, candlelight talks, trips down memory lane, laughter, aching muscles, petty spats, and togetherness, we transformed this old apartment into my new home. My sisters left, and I walked about my apartment in disbelief that I had landed in a safe place created for healing and figuring out who I am and who I want to be. I am on my own. I thanked God for everything and slept through the night, all night, in the same position.