Friday, July 13, 2007
#10: Tiny Spaces
There is no question that HK is a big city comprised of lots and lots and lots of tiny spaces. As a tiny-space dweller myself, I've come to appreciate the continuous creativity and compromise one learns to live with on a daily basis when faced with the task of shoving all of your worldly possessions into a space the size of the average American's bathtub. I think it's a good exercise in materialistic constraint. Actually, I often wonder how a city full of some many people, living in such tiny little boxes could find itself to be one of the world's major shopping meccas. Where people put all their stuff is beyond me. Even though we know we've got a basement full of stuff waiting for us in my mom's house upon our return, our year in HK has been a great lesson on only buying what you need.
The 275 sq ft we call home has served us well, although I do admit I'm looking forward to having a slightly roomier closet in our next home. (The closet Matt and I share now is only 3'x2.5'x4'.) Perhaps the biggest bonus is that when we start to look for an apartment in the notoriously expensive state of California, we'll think paying $1100/month for an 800 sq ft apartment is a true bargain.
But tiny spaces aren't just found at home. Everywhere we go we rub elbows (quite literally) with all sorts of people. The trains are glorified sardine cans. Seats on buses are itty-bitty. And when we go out to eat, Matt and I are often seated next to another couple at a 4-person table. When we first moved here it felt so strange to sit in such close quarters with complete strangers at dinner, but now it seems perfectly natural. And we're seldom speaking the same language as the people next to us, so we're not even distracted by their conversation. The restaurants are small, and they squeeze in the patrons anywhere they can. It's just the way it goes.
I hope I don't too quickly forget what a tiny-space lifestyle feels like and go out and buy lots and lots of stuff I don't need and sit really far away from people in restaurants. I've become accustomed to "rubbing elbows" with strangers.