I was in great spirits as I sat across the desk from Ms. Taylor, who was about to become my new landlady. Congratulations, Mr. Rayman, she said as I pushed the signed copy of a one-year lease across her desk along with a check. Will you be moving in on the first?

Yes, and you can call me Fred, I said. I m excited. Four years in a dorm is quite enough.

That s great Fred, she said, not offering her first name. We ll officially open the apartment complex that day. We already have about twenty-five move-ins scheduled.

I'm looking forward to living here, I said as she handed me a copy of my lease. I've got a couple of weeks before I start my new job, so I plan to get settled as soon as possible and then enjoy chilling-out by the pool. Keep in mind that the pool closes at ten. No late-night parties.

Yes ma am, I replied, wondering how long it had been since she had attended a good party. Can I have my keys? I asked. I d like to figure out how I'm going to arrange my new furniture.

They re not your keys yet, Ms. Taylor said. But, you can borrow them. How long will it take? About half an hour.

She stared at me for a few seconds then picked up a key from her desk and unlocked a cabinet behind her. Here you go number one-eleven, she said. Bring them right back and don t leave anything inside. Yes ma am, I said. Am I in the dean s office?

I enjoyed the short walk down the winding, tree-lined sidewalk that led to my building, noting that the complex looked even better than it had a few days earlier. The only workers I saw were landscapers who were busy planting flowers.
Passing the pool area, I saw that the volleyball net and lounge chairs were in place, and the pool was now full of sparkling, blue water. This is going to be fun.

When the door closed behind me, I was alone in my future home for the first time. I took in the scent of newness for a few seconds then took off my sandals and walked around. The plush carpeting felt luxurious under my bare feet. The light fixtures and appliances gleamed at me as if to make me feel welcome.

The apartment was even more spacious than I remembered. I chose a one-bedroom unit because the rooms were larger and had higher ceilings. The den and the bedroom featured large closets and the kitchen had an oversized pantry. It was more square footage than I d need, but I didn't want to face another bout with claustrophobia. My favorite room was the den. It featured built-in bookcases and a fireplace. Sliding glass doors led to a small patio that overlooked a beautifully landscaped common area between buildings.

As I was doing a rough sketch of where my furniture would go, I heard a strange sound, like a soft buzz. It went away as I was trying to determine its source. I thought that maybe it came from workers in an adjoining apartment. I checked my watch and saw that I had only five minutes of my half hour left. I finished my sketch and locked up. I wanted to have the keys back to Ms. Taylor within the time limit. She s probably watching the walking back to the office, I thought about how pleased I was to be moving into such an upscale community. I felt happy about getting a fresh start, and I was ready to get my social life going again. Two days later, Ricky, my college roommate, and Pete, a fraternity brother, helped me to move. It was late afternoon when Pete and I carried in the last couple of boxes.

At my graduation, my dad had mentioned that he would be sending the things I had left behind when I went off to college, planning to turn my old room into a den. I reluctantly told him to schedule the delivery for my move-in date, wanting to get organized as soon as possible. I received a message that the shipment wouldn t arrive until after seven. I left room in the den closet for whatever might appear.

As I finally set down the last box, my phone beeped. It was a text from Ricky, who had spent the last hour helping two cute girls move into an apartment in the next building.
Going good, it read. We ll be over soon. Order pizza. I'll get beer. I wasn't quite ready for company, but I figured informal would be okay since it was moving day. Pete and I made a seating arrangement out of boxes filled with books.