“Molly.” My friend Rose explained patiently. “If you are over the age of 21 and no longer live at home, you need a double bed. Don’t even think about getting a twin.”
“But I’m the only one sleeping in it. I don’t need all that extra space. When I sleep in anything larger, I just take one side anyway! What’s the point?”
Rose would not be swayed. “Someday you’ll be glad you have it,” she insisted. “Besides, it’s not even like you’re buying a new bed. You’re taking one from home! Take the big one! God willing, it’ll come in handy.”
“See, that’s the thing. What if I jinx it? What if by bringing a larger bed I unwittingly guarantee that one side of it will always remain empty?” Or, worse, that it will be permanently cluttered, first with books and clothes, then with cats and recipes clipped from Women’s Day, and eventually with old bridesmaid dresses and moldy Hope Chest linens. It seems a little presumptuous somehow, starting out with a big bed like that.
Certainly, I have nothing much to live up to this time around, in terms of both my furniture and my living space. I arrived at my last apartment to find it unfurnished, with cinderblock walls and a kitchen so small you couldn’t fully inhale while standing at the stove (not that I ever wanted to, when I was cooking). I had brought with me no more than I could carry, having spent the last year traveling from New York to California and finally to Honolulu.
In Hawaii, the first piece of furniture my roommate and I managed to acquire was a mattress box spring from the street corner. We figured a mattress would eventually follow. Eight months later, it still hadn’t. We’d gone to a mattress store early on to discover that our idea of a cheap mattress was drastically different from anyone else’s. “All right,” the salesman had said finally. “I’ll give you those two twin mattresses for only $325. I’m being a huge pushover here. You can shop around, but I guarantee you’ll be back.” A pawn shop a few blocks away begged to differ. There we found two thin foam camping mattresses, one used, one new, for $28. I slept underneath a stolen airline blanket on that camping-mattress for the duration of my lease in that apartment. My desk was a broken television we’d retrieved from the curb across the street. Don’t ask me why my roommate and I assumed that someone would leave a perfectly good television on a street corner. We lugged it optimistically up three flights of stairs and plugged it into several different outlets before we finally accepted the fact that it didn’t work. The story of that broken television is an excellent example of the complete naiveté with which we entered the real world. Really, it’s a miracle we’re alive today.
It’s certainly a nice change of pace, moving somewhere a few hours away from home, rather than a few thousand miles and several time zones. For one thing, I get to raid the house, looking for things I’ll need in my new place; things my parents hopefully won’t miss until I’m far enough away. For another thing, I get to bring furniture with me. This is a whole new world. This time, my roommate (the same one as before) came equipped with a couch, a love seat, a bunch of lamps, and a whole mess of end tables. A few hours after moving into our apartment, the living room looked like the set of the Cosby show. It was almost too much for me to handle. Last Fall it was weeks before our living room stopped looking like the set of an off-off Broadway play whose set designer went for ‘severe’. There’s a little fun lost, having things fixed up right away. But there are also fewer used camping mattresses involved, and I can live with that.