"It's a really nice day outside, you know," said my partner when he called. I know and I'm heading outside with my working-from-home bits in just a second, but first I wanted to share a video I came across the other day. Felice Cohen lives in a 90 sq-foot/8 sq-metre apartment in Manhattan, New York. This is her choice and I respect her for the decision. However, it brought me back to the eight years I spent living in a 16 square-metre/170 square-foot pad in Copenhagen.
I moved into my place when I was 19 and just started university. The first few years I loved my haven: I shared a huge kitchen with other students and we had a great time getting used to living away from home. Then the building was refurbished; my little pad suddenly had a kitchenette where I once had storage; and student life got mixed up with people who lived there because they had split up with their partner or because the authorities thought it a good place for "vulnerable adults" to mix with "normal people". Things got very claustrophobic. These were the times when I bought an obscene amount of interior design magazines just to fly away on escapist dreams.
Copenhagen is a very expensive city - including real estate - so moving elsewhere was not an option for many years. One of my friends coined the phrase "3D Tetris" which was terribly apt. Finding room for your tin of baked beans became a competitive sport at times. I look at that video of Felice Cohen and I can see several ways she could use her space better. And I'm not a naturally organised person. The space has a high ceiling and I'd utilise that height a lot more.
Eventually I got my own flat with a separate kitchen (it felt like such a triumph), but it was a real Copenhagen apartment with no bathroom (the shower was in the bedroom I rented out), a tiny toilet (you'd bang your knees on the door when you sat down), and no laundry facilities.
At the time I thought I was happy there but it was a place where time fell into the cracks between the floor-boards and I was actually terribly unhappy there. I lived there for two or three years. I miss the view from the kitchen but that is all.
What home means is such a difficult thing to pinpoint but I know what it is like not having one (I lived in my suitcase for a year. I cannot recommend this). Home means privacy. I shut the front door and shut out the world. Home means space. I can stretch out my arms and not touch walls. Home means peace. I can relax and be quiet. And home means my partner. This is exceptionally sappy, of course, but it is very difficult to imagine a home without him curled up with a book.
Now I'm off to grab my iPod (loaded with Danish-languaged postcasts on culture, society and language), my work and I'm heading out into my Glasgow version of Ms Cohen's Central Park. Enjoy your day.