"So you're moving on to bigger and better things, ay?" Bob the Landlord asked Roommate Matthew and I earlier this evening, his typically coarse tone grumbling in a more playful octave.
"I guess so," I told him, trying to downplay my excitement.
"Well, best of luck to you both," he offered.
"Thanks," we said.
"You can just leave the keys on the counter when you go," he told us. "I'll get 'em tomorrow."
After a brief pause, Bob the Landlord turned and made his way toward the back door off of the kitchen, outside of which is a staircase leading down to his apartment. Just as he was about to descend the steps, he paused, turned toward us and said, "I hope this place served a purpose."
As I stood with Roommate Matthew in our uncharacteristically clean kitchen for what I knew would be the last time, I nodded without saying anything. A moment later, Bob the Landlord was gone.
I stayed in the apartment for a while after Roommate Matthew left. I walked in and out of each of the rooms, fingering dents and scrapes that we'd created over the course of the past three and a half years. I used my iPhone to snap a few pictures and fought the urge to narrate a final video tour. When I finally collected enough strength to leave, I stopped in the doorway and stared into the darkness and thought about the last time I'd seen it this empty, when my parents and I toured it shortly after college graduation.
Again, Bob the Landlord's words popped into my head.
"I hope this place served a purpose."
Knowing it had, I smiled, reached for the handle on the door and pulled it closed.