On Moving In

Originally posted on DNO's Journal.

By Ashley O'Neill is a personal memoir of life in New Orleans. Keep up with Ashley on Instagram.
Photography by Laura Steffan



The best thing about growing up is getting to know yourself.

I recently uncovered a notebook from when I was 17, about to start college, and it listed a bunch of things I pictured for my future self. On that list included what my perfect Saturday would look like: waking up late in a room full of natural light, putting on a linen summer dress, cooking for myself in my own kitchen, listening to jazz music while eating breakfast on my balcony, walking to a nearby shop or coffeehouse to meet a friend...


It's funny how deep down we are who we are no matter how long it takes to manifest or uncover it. I'm now 22. I just had that Saturday for the first time ever. I feel very light, and my heart is full.

About three weeks ago I moved into my first apartment. I've lived in apartment complexes—I've even lived in a house with my boyfriend—but this is different. This place is a blank slate. It's freedom. It's the feeling you got when you started school in the fall; that brisk air, the possibilities inside a fresh notebook, the momentum that follows a change of pace.


I've been collecting things for this place. I've started to fill it with items I cherish, mulling over the pairing of textures and shapes. It's been thrilling and refreshing. I find myself dancing like I used to, alone, and for no reason, in the middle of what will be a dining room to host close friends and family. Pure joy is radiating from my spirit. It's as if my soul finally has a place to dwell, to grow — to discover even more of myself. Slowly, kindly, and in a place of my own.