Jill Talbot’s column, The Last Year, traces the moments before her daughter leaves for college. It will run every Friday this month, and then return for a month each in the winter, spring, and summer.
I’ve never owned a house or a refrigerator, never had to think about knobs for cabinets. The cabinets in our apartment don’t have knobs, and it’s not for the sake of sleekness or simplicity. It’s cheap, functional. Lately, every time I open the front door, I wonder how many strangers have closed it for the last time. I wonder what might have caused the painted-over dents on the wall in my bathroom. And I wonder if someone else stared at the gap between the front door and the foundation the way I do, saw the sunlight sneak through during the day, felt the cold scuttle in across the floor at night.
Every time my daughter and I have moved, I’ve rented a place sight unseen, because I can’t afford to make the trip to the new town to scout rentals, walk room to room, peek in closets. I’m easily swayed: I said yes to the house in Utah when the landlady on the phone said, “It’s on a corner,”; yes to the duplex in Oklahoma because a Craigslist photo showed a built-in bookshelf in the living room; and yes to this apartment complex because the website showed black appliances, and we’d never had black appliances before.