Little tiny boxes. That’s all life comes down to, really. You start it out in a hospital room—that’s the first box–and, eventually, most end in some sort of box as well. Every stop along the way is just another box.
Which is why it amazes me that the world’s economy tanked because of them. Change a few regulations about how people can finance their homes and all of a sudden—poof!—countries are collapsing, at least economically.
I never quite got the point of the boxes, to be honest. I think that’s because my parents made sure I never really had to worry about a home to keep the rain out and the love in. We moved three times in my life, and my parents haven’t moved since 1980. I always have a home with them if I need it (and if think my mother and I can live together without one of us killing the other.) Home ownership ranks right up there with food and water for my parents.
Now, me, I’m another story. I possess what most kindly call “nomadic tendencies” and move as the mood strikes me. In two decades since I left home I’ve moved 12 times, not counting college dorms. Thank god for the invention of the computerized address book because I’ve used up all the “S” pages in my mom’s paper one. I like to think of myself as steady but not necessarily stable. I’m not sure my mother would agree.
Needless to say, when you move on the average of once every 17 months or so, mortgages aren’t the smartest choices. I’m also staring down some negative credit repercussions and I’m self-employed, so I’ll stick to renting, thank you.
Moving is really just switching boxes, if you think about it. Most people trade up when they move, but this time around I chose a view over space: a place on the beach.
My “studio” apartment—all 220 square feet of it—makes me smile. Kindly put, I’m renting a charming studio apartment a few blocks from the Gulf. Realistically stated, I live in an oversized broom closet with a kitchen. Had I wanted a housewarming party it would have consisted of a conga line in and out again with my friends arriving in shifts.
But you know what? My front door opens up to a jasmine-lined courtyard and it takes me two minutes to get to the beach for the sunset. I’ve squeezed my dresser in my closet and college students would reject my refrigerator because it won’t hold a full case of beer. I don’t care; I can leave my door unlocked while I check the mail or walk Calypso.
Going from a two bedroom house to a storage shed with great light necessitated some streamlining, and I’ve done two things that stop most people cold: I don’t own a television or a microwave. This doesn’t bother folks as much as the next thing I’m about to admit:
I don’t want a television or a microwave.
Everyone wants me to have one, it seems. People try and give them to me on an almost daily basis. When my parents first visited they, ever the good parents who worry about their slightly off-center adult daughter who makes what they describe on a good day as “peculiar” choices, inquire politely if the lack of a microwave is an issue of money.
I glance around the broom closet, shimmy sideways past my mother to get to a chair, and tell them no, that it is an issue of space. I then ask my mother how to reheat something on the stove, whereby she hangs her head in her hands and moans something that sounds suspiciously like, “All that money for your education… college… wasted.”
It’s not just my parents in shock, although before today they were the only ones who knew I lacked fundamental knowledge on how to reheat things on a stovetop. It seems to bother people on some primal level that I can’t make a Lean Cuisine or watch House at will. These things—microwaveable dinners and first-run network programming—snuck into the American psyche somewhere in the last 50 years and became almost as unavoidable as death and taxes. I’m eating healthier and getting more exercise instead of letting my eyes glaze over in front of a TV, but that seems lost on most people; I may as well tell people I surrendered my roof or sink.
Not so long ago, really, I lived in a much bigger house with two living rooms and three bathrooms. The family room dwarfed my current apartment and I wanted for nothing tangible. Funny thing, though: I’ve steadily traded down every move since and I’ve found I love the process of streamlining, of throwing things out and seeing what I can do without.
I doubt I would have made this move had the economy not failed us. I likely would have sold my house when things got too rough and bought some other house somewhere else. But then I wouldn’t walk on the beach every night at sunset or learn how to reheat food the “old-fashioned” way or walk with Calypso down to the water in the morning.
No doubt I’d be happy wherever I ended up, but right now I love my little apartment, which I painted aqua and coral and lime and teal. Right now it’s home. Right now I don’t need a microwave.
I’m sure I won’t stay here forever. One day I’ll pack my stuff in boxes and put it in a different box: perhaps a box with more space, or maybe a floating box. I may even find a box with room for a microwave. I’ll paint over the pink and blue and green and yellow and pull the door shut behind me and surrender the keys and I’ll head off for the next adventure.
It’s just another box to me.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.