There is a precious commodity that every San Franciscan covets. Just as the value of, say, a banana increases exponentially in the Arctic, verses in a tropical jungle, so the simple laws of economy-- supply & demand-- are present in my fine City.
I am talking about Space: whether it be a parking spot, or simply the elbow room to stand in any given part of your home without being able to reach out & touch every article of furniture you own, Space is a valuable item here.
There is a never ending Tetris game that exists in San Francisco, where everyone I know battles with their square footage-- re-arranging furniture, scouring Craigslist, BARTing to Ikea, and jealously eying each other to see how the Jone's are keeping up.
I imagine that New York is even worse-- that if you could find a way to bottle up a square foot at a time and sell it on the streets, you might even start a riot eclipsing the Tickle-me-Elmo craze, while City Dwellers scratched & clawed at one another to add just a little more Space to their lives.
I confess that I am not immune to the fantasies of what life could be like with just a little more Space. I admit that I have secret, wishful dreams about what I would do with a second bedroom (oh, imagine the utter extravagance! Like winning the Lottery!), or even what it would be like to have two people in the kitchen at the same time. I decided just the other day that in order to make room for my boots to line up in our closet, I need to get rid of a stock pot in our kitchen (I'm not joking! Our ice cream maker has no where else to sleep but on our closet floor, and if we got rid of a stock pot, we could put the ice cream maker in the kitchen, and I could line up my boots in the bedroom closet, rather than cramming them in awkward piles.).
Every now and then-- especially when we have been out of town for a while and come home with fresh eyes to really see our apartment-- I find new energy & creativity to re-invent our living space, making it more efficient & roomy.
It all started with a Simple Plan: if we got rid of our TV, we could eliminate the clunky stand it sits on, and... [you can feel the seductive siren call, the very thought welling up like fireworks]... create more *Space*. We would replace our obtrusive TV with our flat panel computer monitor for watching movies, eliminating the temptation to waste time in front of the tube, while freeing up some precious Space.
That's when it all fell apart. What would we do with that Space? We can't just leave it there-- that would be wasteful! And what about when we use the computer and watch a movie at the same time? What began as a simple plan turned into a complete overhaul. In a matter of days, we had every material belonging in our Living Room stacked, re-arranged, thrown out, or in limbo somewhere in between (mostly the latter). I spent hours-- probably days-- searching through Craigslist, visiting thrift shops, measuring each inch of floor space & moving every piece of furniture.
And then, like a miracle, it all came together. I found Chris' ultimate fantasy: a big, over sized leather arm chair to grow old on. It matched our couch perfectly, and it was only $50. Hooray for Craigslist! Suddenly everything came into focus. We raced out, hastily handed over our $50 and marched our prize down to the car.
The only problem was that Chris' beautiful new/used armed chair was about 2 inches too tall to fit in our non-SUV. No matter how much we pushed, or how many angles we tried, it just wouldn't go in that little car. However, when the very bottom of one side of the chair was squeezed in through the hatchback, the bottom of the other side rested comfortably on the bike rack/trailer hitch. Hmmm, why not? We said to ourselves
With only about 5% of the arm chair actually inside the car, we drove off with the rest of it precariously balanced on the bike rack (with the aid of some ratchet straps)... and did what any rational San Franciscan would do: we went to the beach. (Well, we were only a few blocks away, and our poor dog hadn't been outside at all that day!). When we finally made it home, cleaned up our treasure (and found a few dollars in change under the cushions-- meaning that the chair only cost about $48!), we laughed at the thought of fitting this ginormous armchair into our apartment. But I would not be defeated. I believed in my plan.
The chair sat out in the foyer for a few days while we did mental Rubic's Cube with the furniture inside. After much turmoil, we finally landed on our solution: a flat panel TV and a tiny cart to put in on (I'll save you the gory details of our Salvation Army searches, our TV research, the painting & re-wiring & re-arranging that took place for that minor miracle to occur).
In all, we ended up with a gorgeous leather arm chair, a flat panel TV, a rolling wooden cart, and a new sense of space & openness for only $248 (more than we intended to spend, but it was our Christmas present to each other). Not bad, when you consider how jealous our friends will be, now that we have room for a couch, a dining table and an arm chair in our living room. Of course, we still can't find a place for our plants & our stereo, we have to re-arrange our furniture every time we want to watch TV, and my feng Shui is all messed up from an off-centered picture that we still haven't re-hung after the room's re-configuration.
But, as I sit on that fabulous leather arm chair and survey our new & improved room, I have an air of satisfaction, knowing that I succeeded at squeezing out every last drop of Space that this apartment had to offer (once I get rid of my stock pot, of course).