Blue Patagonia dress. Black New Balance trainers. Knockoff Swiss Army knife. I can name every item I currently own, mostly because two months ago I was packing it all into my purple 65 liter backpack to spend the year working and traveling in Australia.
A year earlier, I was living in a spacious apartment in Charleston, with enough room to contain all the stuff I had acquired over the last four years. I say “stuff” because I’m not even sure why I had most of it or how it ended up there. I think I just added more to fill the empty voids in my walls and my life. After graduating from college, I had to take the same amount of said “stuff,” with the exception of the items I sold or donated to Goodwill, and fit it into my old room at my parents’ house in Atlanta. A room half the size of my previous one, mind you.
When I moved into this house when I was 15, I didn’t mind having the smallest room, since I would be moving away in a few years’ time. I hadn’t, however, planned on having to come back. But what college graduate does? I fit what I could into storage, but there just wasn’t enough room. My complaints were constant, especially when I saw the large room of my younger sister, who had since vacated it to go to college herself.
But when I decided to come to Australia, I knew I would have to adjust my thinking. Everything in my possession would fit into one of three bags, which would be constantly unpacked and repacked as I went from city to city. This was the plan, at least. Instead, I traveled for 2 weeks, came back to Sydney to start work, as my budget was blown during my brief jaunt, and ideally finding an apartment so I wouldn’t have to couchsurf with my boyfriend and his dad anymore.
I found an apartment on Gumtree in nearby Marrickville. It said it was small, but I didn’t care, as long as I had my own room. I had looked at a few filthy backpacker share houses and knew they weren’t for me. But this one was different. I had my own bed, shelf and wardrobe. It was sparse and small, as they mentioned, but it was as close to home as I’d felt since arriving in Australia. Even after emptying the contents of my backpack, I had room to spare.
It’s funny to think back on my temper tantrums about not having enough space. Now I’m nesting here, putting up pictures from home in a room the size of my former bathroom. Even though I won’t be here for too long, I’m glad to have found my space.