life in a tiny apartment.

May 14, 2018

temporary move in a tiny apartment | reading my tea leaves

Survival Tip #163: List the pros.

We moved. Just temporarily. While a damaged wall and the associated peeling paint in our apartment gets repaired, we’re one flight down, in a space nearly identical to our garret home, but with higher ceilings and taller windows. In the kitchen, there’s a very apparent missing dishwasher, and everywhere a less noticeable, but still present trim in square footage. Rugs overlap in this space. Turns made around the table by a toddler hoping to escape capture need to be made slightly tighter.

Moving house always creates a moment of reckoning. When it’s time to pack my earthly possessions into boxes, I nearly always notice that I’m less perfectly organized than I wish I were. There are still too many mason jar lids. The spice cabinet has gotten disorderly, again. Why, again, are we hanging onto this blanket? It takes work to move, not just physically, but psychologically, too. The cons are obvious enough: exhaustion and precious time and peace of mind. But instead of focusing on all of that, I thought I’d write a list of pros. An exercise for myself, mostly, but also because it feels nice to remember that we’re surrounded by so much that’s lovely even when we’re momentarily displaced and rather wishing the kitchen cabinets were not so grimy.

+ Cardinals. A pair of them, diving in and out of fire escapes and occasionally landing on our very own. A four year old who recognizes their call. A baby brother who double-steps with glee at the sight of them.

+ Daydreams about a garden on this south-facing fire escape. Moonflowers, for sure, running up a length of twine in front of the kids’ room. Moonflower-scented dreams in an alternate universe where we’re settling into this spot more permanently.

+ Across the way, an elderly couple for neighbors. She brings him a bottle of beer to sip while reading the newspaper and settles to sip on her own—foamy in a tall glass—from her perch on an ancient sofa. 

+ One door over, a child’s nightlight spotted while kissing sweaty foreheads goodnight. Rainbow lights circling the room. No doubt we read simultaneous bedtime stories.

+ One flight up, a flickering candle in the window. (Lives in tiny apartments abound.)

+ In the bathroom, a medicine cabinet mirror that closes all the way.

+ On a marble fireplace mantel, a romantic place to light a tall candle. And peonies from a husband who took care to ask the florist to leave off the plastic wrapping.

+ Mourning doves. Cooing from a cherry tree only a week denuded of her blossoms. Underneath, a carpet of pink fading to brown but still caught somewhere in a transition you might call rust.

+ In the afternoon, sunlight on floorboards. It’s a never-occurrence in a north-facing apartment and no wonder this place is more expensive than ours. Someone sunlight-loving must have worked out those numbers. (We’re determined to soak in every last ray while we can.)

(More details on our temporary move in my Instagram stories, if you’re interested in following along.)

Tiny apartment survival tips #1 – 162.

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  • Reply Maryann May 14, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Moving is so exhausting. But what a great chance for a new perspective – both in a different apt and when you move back to your own apt. Appreciated all your pros. And those are some BIG windows. So lovely.

  • Reply Amanda May 14, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I don’t know if it’s practical or you’re able, but we recently hung a hummingbird feeder (topped with a bit of neon orange tape to catch their attention) and now they come about every twenty minutes from dawn to dusk. It’s like a miracle every time I see one, and I don’t think it will ever get old. Just something that’s brightening up my doldrums recently 🙂

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 14, 2018 at 3:31 pm

      Headed home with a grapefruit this afternoon to make a temporary feeder! Now you’ve got me wanting to make one for hummingbirds!

  • Reply Virginia May 14, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I love the way you write! You remind me to soak in all the little things in life. So glad that despite the chaos, you’ve somehow found magnificent beauty in it all.

  • Reply Rose May 14, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    “Lives in tiny apartments abound.”

    That’s lovely. They do 🙂

  • Reply Alix May 14, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    This is called living a life of gratitude. What a lovely example you are, Erin.

  • Reply Lacey May 15, 2018 at 7:45 am

    i like the elderly couple having their ice cold beer date. so cute cute cute.

  • Reply Kristin May 15, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I bet it took you all of about 3 hours to move … compared to the average American family of 4 and all their accumulated stuff. Days and days of packing and van loading. Well played.

  • Reply Miruska May 16, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    You write sooo well. I am enjoying every word and can imagine every moment clearly. And your skill at observing and noting seemingly small aspects of life is seriously enviable. I have to practice that more. and be grateful more.

  • Reply Mickey May 17, 2018 at 7:15 am

    Erin, your next book should be |The Poetry of Simple Living|

    I so enjoy your observational posts.

  • Reply Mun May 22, 2018 at 1:30 am

    Loving your positive take on the move.

  • Reply Ideal Flatmate June 7, 2018 at 7:15 am

    This is a lovely read, Erin – moving (especially when downsizing, even temporarily) can be a real psychological hit, but you’ve really found the upbeat side here. We love hearing about the ways people find the positive when living in small spaces, communal or otherwise. Still, hope your apartment is fixed soon – there’s no place like home!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE June 7, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Thanks! No downsize here—live in a small space and moved to a small space—but happy to report we’re settled back home!


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