Lessons in Space

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.

And I’ve never been happier, despite my lack of “stuff.”

About Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is the founder of Caroline in the City. She's a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia but also considers Charleston and Sydney home. Her past writing credits include work for AFAR.com, National Geographic Travel and she is a contributor to Her Packing List.


Subscribe via RSS reader or to my monthly newsletter.

10 Responses to Lessons in Space

  1. Bess April 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    I guess it’s all a matter of perspective, right? You were/are backpacking with your boyfriend and your boyfriend’s dad! I will have to scroll down your posts and find out more about that!

  2. Rebecca April 27, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I loved having no stuff and being able to carry everything around with me! It’s definitely a trait I have returned with and use daily.

    But then I have always loved small spaces. Small spaces mean less stuff. Guess it took traveling to put two and two together! Your place looks so cute!

    • carolineinthecityblog April 28, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      It took getting used to, but now I like it. Except with clothes. I hate wearing the same few items in every picture. Thanks! It’s the perfect size for now.

  3. Amy Eubanks April 27, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    It is never the “things” that you remember in life. It is the people you get to know and the experiences you have. Your life is so full of people who love you, and the world is out there, waiting to be explored. Carry on!

  4. Candice Walsh April 29, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    Love this! Gives me hope that I can sometime whittle down all my belongings too! Haha. I don’t know how we manage to accumulate such junk. I’m currently looking around my bedroom in its disarray right now, and I still have a desktop sitting on my floor that’s been there since I moved in. Not being used.

  5. Heather May 3, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    I hear ya! The moment I walked into my room at home last week, I froze. I really don’t have that much stuff, but I have to fit what used to be in my apartment in grad school into my bedroom and a section of the basement. And going through my drawers and closets in the last few days, I’m overwhelmed and burdened by all the stuff I own. Compared to others, it didn’t feel like a lot before, but after living with a suitcase the last year, it all seems to be way too much now!

    And I know I’ve said it before, but YAY for the Inner West <3

    • carolineinthecityblog May 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

      I’m dreading going home because of all the stuff in storage! If I’m coming back here, it has to go! I hope you’re doing well back in the States, soaking up all the things you’ve missed. For me, it’s grits, Mexican food and family. So indulge in all three for me!


  1. 2011: My Year in Review « Caroline in the City - December 31, 2011

    [...] Mardi Gras. I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with my American expat mates. I also moved into my apartment in Marrickville with my two Aussie [...]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge