It is happening.
The 416 square feet of tiny hell is over, everyone. It’s been a long time since I had more than one room and I am so excited to be able to close a door, have a spare bedroom/office, have a dining room, and cook in a kitchen with enough counter space for me and my partner.
Breath in the space. It’s coming.
And I don’t care how rediculous it sounds. I will walk through every room of our new apartment with my arms spread eagle and I will bask the openness of the separate rooms.
Say it with me, reader. Over. 1,000. Square. Feet.
I have a master’s degree in literature and I’ve never heard a more beautiful phrase.
Small apartments are a part of growing up. They are for me, at least. My first place was 700 square feet. The current place (which I will be moving out of in a matter of days!) is significantly smaller. But it is what worked at the time. And if it works then you, sometimes, need to grin and embrace the change. I did.
And I think it was a positive decision. Now, don’t get me wrong. I hate this small apartment. I am still ready to leave and I’m not going to position graduation goggles on my face and start feeling nostalgic for my bedroom/living room/kitchen all-in-one-room studio. Hell no.
However, it would be foolish to think that this place has not contributed to some type of growth. It has and it’s a mix of big and small things.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that I can live just about anywhere with my partner and it will be okay. We’ve learned to change and adapt. Headphones were big, because we needed to be away from each other. When you have to be constantly near someone, you have a choice. Either you love them for all that they are or you begin to see all of their faults amplified before you. I learned to love my partner for all that they are. That means faults or flaws or differences. Even when stuck in tiny space, we get along, we don’t fight, and she continues to be astounding to me. That’s no small feat. It’s important.
I also learned that space is a construct. I can hear you saying, “No shit, Ethan.” And I get it. But I want you to think deeper.
We generate spaces and assign them meaning. They are constructed in our minds and, by assigning meaning, we provide space with a sense of power. As a writer, I used to feel like I should write in my office. I sit at the desk, turn on the lamp, open the laptop, and the writing has begun. As someone who writes, I often found myself making rituals and patterns that would lead to good prose. Most of it was defined by space.
And it’s bullshit. You can write sitting on the floor. You can write at a desk or on the couch or on the bed. You can write in a courtyard outside. You don’t need parameters or rituals to guide your creativity. If you are assigning so much meaning to space, then you are betraying your ability to create.
Last thing, I learned what it means to take the biggest chance I’ve ever taken and come out okay on the other side. I’ve written about this situation before. But moving to Boston with no job, a savings account that would eventually run out, and myself and another to help support was hard.
I’m not here to bitch about it. It is what it is. I get it. But to move, find a job, learn a city’s public transit system, learn how to live without a car, acclimate to an entirely different way of life, and do it all within 416 square feet is a fucking testament to adaptability of humans.
Now, I was scared. I would say I was pure terrified, but I did it. Outside of a global pandemic, things are okay. I remain sane. I write nearly every day. I’ve been sending things out for publication and I managed to find side-gigs that challenge me.
In a way, this is a eulogy to the studio apartment. While I hated to confined quarters, I pushed myself in ways that I could never have imagined. I started this blog in the studio. There are memories and moments that I love and will never forget. So, thank you studio apartment. Perhaps your small space led me to try to be bigger, broader. Maybe even brave.