There are benefits to living in a studio apartment: it takes less time to clean, it forces you to become creative with organization tactics, and it feels so intimately yours in a city that provides very little time alone. The cozy confinement of a studio on a rainy day or a breezy afternoon is something to be cherished, but there are shortcomings to living in less than 500 square feet.
The first thing I always notice upon leaving New York City is the space; restaurants, shops, even gas station bathrooms seem to boast higher ceilings and larger floor plans than their equivalents in the city. While, for now, I love living in my little studio apartment, exploring the spacious abodes and comfortable homes outside of Manhattan always makes me want for more space. I catch myself daydreaming about long hallways between bedrooms, about spare corners for old chairs, and tall shelves filled with books, candles, and old family heirlooms. A graduate student in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I realize that - at the moment - my opportunities for space and comfort are limited, but it's something to look forward to; something to work towards. One day I'll be in a position to have more space, but until then I'll be enjoying and appreciating the spaces of those already there.
I remember writing my mom a letter on a post-it note when I was about 7 or 8, thanking her for loving me and showing appreciation for all she had done. At the end of the letter, I stated that although I loved her, I wished she would become the type of person who wanted a 2-story house. As a kid, that was my dream. I grew up in a ranch style home in Dallas, with a large backyard, and multiple bedrooms, hallways, and living areas, but all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to have a flight of stairs. I envied my friends whose parents were the type of people who wanted 2-story homes, and hoped that one day, my parents would join the club.
My parents lived in that house until I was 23 years old; I cried the day they told me they were selling it, and the night before we handed over the keys, and ultimately (despite its single-storiedness) I can't imagine growing up anywhere else. It was a space full of memories: Christmas Eve dinners and Easter Egg hunts, rom-com movie nights with mom and USC football games with dad, a bedroom that saw me through all of my interior design phases from Barbie-inspired to purple-obsessed; games of pretend school, house, and fast-food drive-in with my sister, and family dinners on Sunday night around the table in our sunroom. Subject to my mother's interior design tendencies, the space was constantly being re-decorated and re-arranged; the changes it went through reflected the evolution of our family life, and moving out of that house meant leaving a piece of our family behind.
I moved into my studio mid-June of this year, and although I'm still figuring out the best way to keep things organized sans-closet, and where to put my utensils without any kitchen drawers, I am slowly - but surely - making the space my own. Years from now, when I'm sitting at home (on an oversized couch next to a set of doors that leads to a wrap-around balcony and overlooks the ocean maybe? Probably not), I'll look back on my early days in New York City with fondness. Living in a small space has allowed me to appreciate what I have, enjoy a more minimalistic lifestyle, and, as mothers around the world would say, it builds character.
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Annamarie // August 2, 2015