PUT THE SPEAKERS IN THE WINDOW

Personal living space matters differently to different people. I think its importance to an individual depends on how much time they spend in it – if you prefer to be out of the house, you tend not to mind coming home to a little box with a bed and a chest of drawers, while if you spend a lot of time in your home, you value having a space that you’re happy to occupy. I belong in the second camp, given as I am to reading on the interwebs, watching films and TV series, and playing the odd game. My legs are slowly turning to jelly through lack of exercise, but I’m enjoying myself, and I’m going to start running the day after tomorrow so screw you.

For the vast majority of my life, my living space has been perfectly acceptable. Except maybe that year without a door on my room, or the first two years at school in a dormitory with 14 other boys. Even my last flat in Christchurch, a particularly small place by NZ standards, was acceptable – while my room was tiny, it had a separate lounge and kitchen, so I could waste time in them without feeling hemmed in.

When it came to light that I was going to move to Japan, I had this picture in my head of me in a traditional Japanese room with tatami mats, sliding doors, and a futon that I pack away each morning. That wasn’t what I got. Instead, I was given a room that, subtracting the bed, desk, clothes rack and chest of drawers from the equation, only had about 1.5 square metres of floor space. Not only that, but there was no real lounge to speak of, just an austere kitchen/dining area. I was happy to be in Japan, of course, but it kind of sucked coming home each night to such an unwelcoming space. Students told me it was small even by Japanese standards. And as for bringing other people round, fuggedaboudit.

My relentlessly pragmatic brain didn’t get upset, though. It just said ‘right, we must find a new space where we can make rays of sunshine and pink unicorn’s tails’ – to wit, a new, better place. Rather than putting any sort of plan into action, however, I half-heartedly performed online searches and sent off a sum total of 0 inquiries. Then, a little over two weeks ago, a gentleman brought an advertisement for his small guest house to one of the schools I teach at. It told of a place in beautiful Kamakura with a big, traditional room in a decent location. I fired off an email and went to check it out.

Of course it was just like the picture I had in my head. Why wouldn’t it be? I was lucky in getting my job, lucky in meeting certain people here, now exceedingly lucky to have something like my dream living space fall into my lap. I took it, and moved in last Friday. Now I live in one of my favourite places I’ve visited, in a space I adore, with wonderful people for landlords and a month-to-month contract (should something else miraculously turn up). You never appreciate things until they’re gone, and now that I’ve gone a few months of preferring not to go home to my tiny cupboard of a room, by golly, I’m appreciative of this.

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