Right after our wedding, we moved into APT 415 in Phenix City, AL. Prior to moving here, Luke had a small one-bedroom place in Columbus with peeling kitchen wallpaper decorated with grapes, 2 tiny closets with sliding doors and a joint dining room-kitchen combo. The washer and dryer were stacked on top of one another and you could only use one at a time or they both shut down! His room featured a large window with a view of the little duck pond and running track- the best part of that little abode as he was saving up for our wedding and new life together.
But, when I moved to Columbus early due to a last minute change of career plans, we decided it was time to find something a little bigger- something in a better part of town that would be the perfect little nest to begin our lives together. We didn’t want to purchase a home here, knowing the Army could move us at any time with or without warning. And so, after days of searching for apartments, we found the perfect place– APT 415. It was so bright and airy compared to that previous apartment and so very spacious with double the square feet! I still remember the day we found it, gasping in awe as we got off the little golf cart and toured this place with SO MUCH ROOM! How would we ever fill it? The possibilities seemed endless, and it felt like a palace to us at that time. A place of our very own!
Our friends Greg and Jenae helped us move in, and Luke and Greg spent a good hour trying to get our sofa through our new patio door before finally realizing the legs unscrewed! That was a fun night as we tried to figure out what furniture to put where. The next day Luke took me to Ashley Furniture and I bought our first pieces of our very own that weren’t given to us by family members- a floor rug and ottoman for the living room. He went to the field for several days a few weeks later, and my good friend Nikki and I spent the weekend scouring through home goods stores to bring some personal touches to our new home. We had so much fun finding pillows, vases and table decor in my new color scheme. My friend Amy went to Kirkland’s with me where I got a giant wall painting on sale–and then we struggled with aimlessly to stuff it into my Altima! We failed that particular mission, and Luke had to come back later with his truck to collect my purchase.
Once my walls and rooms were completed, I couldn’t wait to have real grown up company over to use all of my crystal, place settings and fun serving dishes from my Wedding Registry. My first big event was a Halloween Party, 10 days before my birthday. Five couples came, and Luke and I had so much fun decorating the place with spider webs and glowing jack-o-lanterns, and I made some signature vampire blood punch and giant candy corn jello desserts. There were so many laughs that night as the guys grilled and had a few beers and the girls chatted in the kitchen. That same group would gather in APT 415 many more times over the years- for the Epic Newlywed Game Night, for mine and Luke’s birthday celebrations, for cook outs before Hockey games and for Holiday Dinners.
I found my inner Domestic Goddess in Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter table settings, and we hosted our very own holiday dinners for the first time in our own home. I hosted Gone With the Wind girls’ day, complete with Mint Juleps and Rachel Sampler’s delicious pralines, and my girl friends would often stop by for Pool Days or Wine Nights. Luke’s West Point roommates came to visit one weekend and had a blast playing video games and reminiscing on days gone by! Amanda won the World Record for Ticket to Ride and Luke learned to play Rook with my family here. Luke’s parents visited, and we served many a family dinner around both our old and new kitchen tables in APT 415. I even co-hosted a bridal shower for one of my coworkers here and had my boss and 14 others over for that event. We rang in the New Year with dear friends, cheered our Crimson Tide and Tar Heels teams on to victory and watched 3 Super Bowls here.
Yes, APT 415 held so much laughter, joy and blessings as we built such special relationships with those around us. It also held tears and arguments as we navigated those first few years of marriage. We learned to deal with the stresses of grown up jobs, navigating new in law relationships and dealing with one another’s daily quirks behind this door. We decorated it piece by piece- the very first place that has ever been ours. We entertained here, binge watched Netflix here, and cooked so many meals here. Now that it is time to say good bye to APT 415, it feels strange- like the end of an era. Sure, it’s just an apartment with loud overhead neighbors, a car that was broken into and some of the other issues that come with an apartment complex, but it was our home. As our earthly belongings lay scattered around us like little land mines in an obstacle course of our life as we wait for the movers to pack it all away for good, I can’t help but think of everything that made up our life here in APT 415. There isn’t any space remaining now- somehow we filled the whole place up with furniture and material goods over the years! What once seemed so big seems smaller than ever at the moment as we try not to stub our toes at night on all the moving boxes! But it was our home, and a part of me is sad to leave it all behind.
But, then, I recall that it wasn’t the APT itself that made up the home but the people surrounding us and the fact that we took these white walls and empty space and together formed a family of our very own. There are no regrets from these 3 years. I look forward to our next chapter in Oklahoma with joy and a sense of adventure and can only hope that old 415 will find some new inhabitants to continue to fill these walls with as much love and laughter as we’ve experienced here.