Notes on the Conservation of Space
I haven't really looked, but some margin-of-the-crossword-puzzle math suggests she may be right. A friend of mine who lives smack in midtown on 8th avenue and 23rd pays about $1800 a month, and if you divide that among four people you'd get a paltry $450 per roomie. Of course, he lives in a one-bedroom with a bunk bed, so everyone would have to be very good friends. But once you alter a few factors---radiating out a few boroughs, for example---I can sort of see the bartender's point.
But still, I haven't had a moment of buyer's remorse. This is not only because I really like my roommates---they're all smart, good-humored, and humblingly considerate---but because I think I've always wanted to live in a tree house. Or a wardrobe. Someplace tiny.
I don't know why exactly. It surely goes back to childhood, where, whenever it was time to play hide and seek, I'd make a beeline for the nearest closet. I'd hunker down, my eyes would quietly adjust, and eventually I could make out shoes around me, clothes hanging above, and tiny leaks of light through the door. And that was my small, easy-to-comprehend world for the duration.
Probably most children, even if they never have a tree house, develop some kind of private nook, even if it's just a hole dug in the back yard or a hollow area in the bordering shrubs. (I had both.) Maybe it seems that no place is quite as fun, if it doesn't also feel a little stolen.
There's another issue too: I honestly don't know what I'd do with a lot of useless space. (There's a moment in the dystopian novel Neuromancer where our hero, retiring for the night, pays a little bit of money for what amounts to a tiny electric sleeping slot, and I remember thinking, "Damn, what a great invention!") I remember when my brother was single and he'd bought his first house, he initially had a whole empty room that looked rather odd. "I think I'm going to buy a plant or a big chair or something," he said. But then, fortunately, he got married and will soon be a father. Problem solved! But that has always seemed to be the other deadly trap of real estate: if you buy a big house, the next thing you wind up doing is buying furniture adn other decorative stuff---stuff that, by definition, you didn't need before---just to fill up the rooms you now own! It's damn near tautological, and if I were ever condemned by the ancient Greek gods like Sisyphus or Tantalus, that's how I'd be tortured for all time: I'd be handed real estate listings and an Ikea catalog, and Zeus would say, "Find a house, and then choose too much furniture for it. Move in. Then find another house that's too big for the furniture you've got. Move in, and then buy even more furniture than you need. Then buy a bigger house yet, and so on forever." I'd rather push a rock.
I currently live out of a single room with a bed, a TV, my computer, and walls of books and boardgames. If I had my druthers, my computer would be a laptop, all my DVDs would be on my hard drive, and the computer would project TV onto the wall. Then all I'd surround myself with would be books and clothes---the smells of my youth. Even as it stands, there are entire sections of my room that I don't use, like the space between the computer desk and the game closet, and that other space sort of near the trash can next to the television. I'd have a much more efficient system in place if I was allowed to shape my own room like a jigsaw piece.
"Wait, Dave!" I hear you say. "With such a tiny, efficient system, what do you do about---ahem---company?" That's never been an issue, and fuck you for reminding me. But whenever I've met a woman in the past, we generally agree to go to her place, on the theory that she's probably nothing like me. (And because, culturally speaking, women are more likely to have nice places.) In a worst-case scenario, we just do it in the car. That's fun, too. But of course, I no longer have a car, nor do most other people here, so I'm no longer sure where I'd go for Plan C. Maybe a 24-hour bank lobby?
I'm sure when the situation arises we'll come up with something creative out of necessity. In the meantime I'll be over here, using my pillows to make a little fort.