December 1, 2000
Four Hundred Square Feet

"every day is the 'anniversary' of something for you, isn't it?"
~ disgusted reader ~

"You know," David said last night, "sometimes I wish we lived in an even smaller apartment than the one we're in now."

And he whirled around in his computer chair, where he sat putting the finishing touches on his festive new *Holiday Fish Guts* .jpg, and beamed at me with undisguised yearning. From my spot on the sofa, I beamed right back at him. I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Sometimes ... four hundred square feet IS too much space for two people. Especially two people who are madly, stoopidly, ridiculously in love, and who want to be together ALL THE TIME -- but can't always be, due to things like jobs and family obligations and real life and occasional bathroom breaks -- so they cherish the time they do have together ... and who genuinely enjoy each other's company, and who don't fight much at all, and who never seem to run out of stuff to talk about ... and who spent the first half of their lives waiting to find their soulmate, and who are now determined to spend the second half of their lives squeezing as much fun and companionship and adventure and sex and conversation and sobriety and togetherness out of the deal as possible.

Anything more than four hundred square feet is wasted on people like that, frankly.

Friends and family alike -- most recently, David's dad at Thanksgiving dinner -- continue to express amazement that the two of us can live in this tiny, claustrophobic apartment without going stark raving bonkers. Or without killing each other totally dead. ("Your mother and I would murder each other!" said Mr. Ю僱êrvØ¡ cheerfully.)

There is no doubt that we're squished here. There is just enough room for one adult to stand in the kitchen at a time, unless you move the bicycle. Our bed takes up the entire bedroom, wall-to-wall. You have to squeeze past that bed in order to get to the miniature bathroom. And although two people can technically fit into the shower together, one of them needs to be sitting down. (Which, of course, is not exactly the worst of our problems.)  

If it were any other two people -- any other combination of personalities/preferences/partners -- it would probably be a disaster.

But for some reason, this brand of in-your-face (and in-your-space) proximity works for us ... and in fact, it's worked every day for the past two years. I have reason to believe it will continue to work, for as long as we live here in four hundred square feet of cramped, chaotic bliss.

David and I woke up on the floor of my little Oregon City apartment, two years ago today ... finished packing up the last of my books and my boxes and my broken coffee mugs ... and pointed the U-Haul in the general direction of the Bay Area.

Thirteen hours and 524 miles later, I was an official California Grrl.

My biggest concern once we got here -- besides UV rays, underwater tunnels and the absence of Taco Time -- was Where in the hell are we going to put all of my stuff??

Mind you: I didn't bring much with me. This was my fourth move in two years. With each successive move I'd pared my earthly belongings down a little bit further. (Part of my campaign to travel through life with as little baggage as possible ... karmic or otherwise.)  I brought my clothes, of course, and my girly stuff, and my books and CDs. I brought my new dishes, and the pots and pans Feef gave me, and my charred oven mitts. (Although I ended up leaving most of the rest of my kitchen stuff behind, including a brand-new toaster and coffeemaker.) I brought my boombox. I brought my computer. 

I brought my EdmundKaz "archives."

The largest thing I brought was my computer desk, which we had already agreed would replace David's antique kitchen table.

But that was it.

Still, it seemed like an alarming amount of stuff to try and introduce into an apartment the size of a tanning booth ... an apartment already crammed to the *rafters* with guitars and bicycles and books and stereo equipment and computer stuff and every record album ever made in the history of record albums. David was serenely optimistic: "We'll find a place for everything," he said. But I honestly didn't see how we were going to manage it.

It was midnight when we finally arrived in Alameda. We'd left Oregon City that morning right on the dot of 11 a.m., but we'd made a couple of stops for gas and meals and potty breaks. Plus it was storming in the Siskyous, so we had to drive very slowly and carefully in order to avoid plunging off a slippery mountaintop and bursting into a fiery ball of flames and stuff. It was an extremely difficult road trip.

No unpacking that night: we were both exhausted. The next morning, David parked the U-Haul directly in front of our building, and we moved most of my stuff into the apartment by passing it through the bedroom window, box by box ... David on the outside of the window, me standing on the receiving end, inside. It was cumbersome and unwieldy, and it took us most of the day, but we managed to get practically all of the small- to medium-sized stuff moved in that way. The larger items -- the computer desk, for instance -- were trundled in separately.

When we were done, I took a good look around ... and promptly burst into tears. The apartment looked even worse than I'd expected. There were boxes on top of boxes on top of boxes, all waiting to be unpacked. Everywhere you looked there were miles-high piles of clothes and books and dishes, all looking for a new place to "live." You couldn't even SEE the living room floor anymore.

It was a disaster.

This is never going to work, I thought. This apartment is too small. This relationship is happening too fast. I'm going to go crazy here. I'll never be alone. I miss my Tree House already. I want to go hoooooooome.

David folded me into his arms for the bazillionth time since we'd begun this brave and foolish undertaking, and he said, "Everything is fine. We'll find a place for all of your stuff. I love you. I'm going to make you happy. You're home now."

And -- my personal favorite: "Two years from now we'll look back on this and laugh."

On some bright shiny morning in the future, David and I will wake up for the very last time here in the Castle.

We'll have our last cup of coffee in our miniature kitchen. We'll broil our last slice of toast in the Ugly Pink Stove. We'll take our last shower in our toy bathroom.

We'll finish loading up the U-Haul with our stuff: David's guitars and my snowglobes ... his stamp albums and her pajama collection ... our Corningware and our CD bookcase and our royal-blue comforter ...

... and we'll lock the door and turn in our keys to the landlord and say goodbye to our now-empty little apartment ...

... and we'll drive across town (or across a bridge, or across a county line) to our groovy, spacious new digs, where we'll unpack in careful and leisurely fashion, over the course of several days -- deciding together where to hang our Elvis Costello poster ... and we'll set up his-and-hers computer stations -- hers in a sunny upstairs bedroom filled with plants and candles, his in a downstairs den filled with amplifiers and old car parts -- networked to each other, of course, but each of us with our own separate phone lines so we can finally both be online at the same time, and we can i.m. each other from different parts of the house like Mr. and Mrs. Bobo ...

... and we'll finally have all of this fabulous space and storage capacity and freedom and wiggle room, and where will the two of us be?

Sitting next to each other on the sofa, of course. Holding hands. And looking at each other with stoopid, ridiculous, undisguised yearning.

throw a rock