We don’t live here anymore.

The lease is broken, the papers are signed, the truck is packed.  The goodbyes are said, photos taken, library books returned (because this is important too).

It’s not the first time I’ve moved.  It won’t be the last.  But this feels different, somehow.  I only lived in Denver for nine months; I thought I wasn’t leaving much behind.  A friend or two, a favorite restaurant, my parents and dog.

But eagerness to explore the new was replaced by a dread of losing the old.  I felt this way four years ago just before I went to study abroad.  I convinced myself that in my absence, the world as I knew it would fall into a sinkhole, taking with it everyone and everything I knew.

Last week, a panicked feeling set in, an anxious urge to see and eat and drink and do everything Denver has to offer.  Last coffee at City O’ City—done, and with a sweet potato cinnamon roll on the side!  One final afternoon in Cheesman Park—check that off the bucket list.  Zoo, baseball game, dinner on the 16th Street Mall—I dragged my best friend, Brandon, to them all.

And yet, when you’re saying your goodbyes to a particular place and time in your life, it never seems enough.  There’s always something left undone, something you’re afraid you’ll regret not experiencing when you had the chance.  When I wasn’t frantically packing up my suddenly overpopulated apartment (my clothes seemed to have reproduced like rabbits in the privacy of the closet), I was forcing myself to take in what I convinced myself was the last of my time in Denver.  Once I left, I reasoned, it would all be gone.

I am a bit past halfway between Denver and Chicago now, in a Travelodge in Iowa City, figuratively sitting between two chapters (pardon the cliché) of my life.  And yet Denver remains; my dog is still alive, my neighborhood is still intact, my friends haven’t up and vanished. The dread is receding the closer I get to my destination.  I wasn’t quite ready to leave, and I might not be ready to arrive, but I can’t wait to unpack my bags, unfold my map, and hit the town.  There are cafes to find, streets to stumble upon, bars to hit, people to meet (and classes to attend…but, a time for everything).  Everyone keeps telling me I’m about to have an incredible adventure, and I’m starting to believe it myself.

My heart broke a little closing the door to my apartment building for the last time, hesitating with the knowledge that once it was shut, I wouldn’t be able to open it again—at least not without the fob I had just given my studio’s new tenant.  It broke again, a tiny bit at a time, as I said goodbye to each of my friends, and the tears finally let loose as I hugged a nonplussed Brandon (“Ci vediamo,” he said—we’ll see each other).

I already miss Denver more than I thought I would, and certain people more than I probably should.  But it—and they—will be there, at least until I visit in December, and in the meantime, I have a whole new city to prepare to miss.