I feel like I just broke up with someone. Driving to Athens this morning, I felt like I was going on one last date, and I knew that I had to break a heart. The heart was my home for eight years of my life (1998-2000, 2002-2008), and has provided me shelter and income, and even after I rented it out, a parking spot and occasional bathroom for football games when I remembered my key.
You know how they say a place will get in your blood and stay forever? Yes, that’s Athens for me – it was my home longer than any other place has been, but 440 Baldwin St #7 is more than that, and when I signed the closing paperwork today, I felt my heart break just a little bit.
440 Baldwin Street #7 was the first home I ever bought. If I met you between May 7, 1998 and July 31, 2008, you probably slept in a bedroom, on the couch or the futon, or even on the bench on the front patio.
This place had so many parties and sleepovers in college (and the post-college years) I left my extra single bed in the living room, just to give people an extra place to crash. And crash we did. I walked out after one of those wild parties and found 3 grown men asleep sitting up on the couch. If the walls could talk… well let’s just say, I’m glad they don’t.
We got more than our fair share of free pizzas because the delivery guys could never find us – no, we aren’t River Mill or Baldwin Village! God Bless GPS, but people still get lost. We drank moonshine with the Coweta County neighbors, had parties that lasted for 3 days and nights, and walked downtown and back so many times we lost count after that first fall. We packed that parking lot every gameday weekend, and even after we got a security guard, we set up the tent and tailgated in the shadow of Sanford Stadium.
We celebrated victories, birthdays, graduations, New Years, engagements, weddings and even saw a few babies take their first steps here. We mourned after losses on the field and court, and the loved ones we lost. I had my heart broken once or twice here, and I’m sure broke one or two myself.
I learned how “to adult” here. If parties got out of hand, I learned the line between having fun and uttering those devastating words – “last call for alcohol”. I learned that replacing carpet with tile has its positives (low maintenance, never had to be replaced with new tenants) and negatives (dropped beer and liquor bottles don’t bounce). And the most adult decision I had to make: to sell the place I thought would be my tailgate home forever. Things changed somewhere between 20 years old to 39 years old.
When a place that has been part of you for all of your adult life – literally half of my life – it is hard to let it go. I became an adult here; I had to pay a mortgage, serve on the HOA board and be a landlord, all before I graduated from college. I met some of my best friends in life here, and I am so glad I can take the memories with me even after I gave up the keys. If you were lucky enough to have spent time at 440 Baldwin St #7, I hope you have those memories to share as well.
Rest In Peace, Baldwin St #7
May 7, 1998-June 7, 2017