My first wife and I had separated, and I packed as many possessions as I could into my Ford Focus. Which wasn’t much, because it’s a small car. It wasn’t even the station wagon version, just a sedan. That wasn’t a lot of stuff, but later I still questioned why I chose to hold onto certain things.
Before the big move, I’d sold off most of my books. That financed most of the adventure. It came out to 33 boxes in total, standard 18″ x 18″ x 16″ (roughly 46 x 46 x 40 cm) cardboard shipping boxes. I still kept 10 or 12 boxes, either because I still wanted the books, or thought I could sell them individually for more money.
I loved the studio apartment where I eventually landed. The building used to be a hotel. All of the units had an efficiency kitchen, with a sink, a stove, and a mini-fridge. I had an incredibly comfortable queen-sized bed, a full-sized dining room table and chairs, and still had space to move around. It was efficient tiny living, but there was room to have people over to have dinner or play games.
There was a lot of judgment, of course. Some people thought it was sad that I living in such a small space. After all, the apartment building was a converted hotel. It wasn’t a bad neighborhood, but it wasn’t prestigious.
The freedom it afforded me, though, was priceless. I didn’t have to take a job that I hated in order to pay the rent. It allowed me to work part-time while I wrote and regrouped and focused on other aspects of my life. A lot of my time was spent hanging around with old friends and rebuilding relationships with people I hadn’t seen for years. I got annual passes to the zoo, the botanical garden, and the aquarium, and went to those places when I needed some space. It’s where I learned how to work efficiently in libraries and coffee shops.
In the moment I thought of this period as a low point in my life, but it wasn’t. It was magical. This was where I got to be myself, free from the expectations of others. If that looked weird to other people, that was their problem.