Friday, 18 June 2010

On the move again

I am planning to move house. Not far, this time. Although the thought that I may well stay in one place - and not just any place, but Brussels - for more than a year at a time scares me more than the Polish Pani in the ground floor newspaper shop.

When I arrived in Brussels in September last year, everything was uncertain. I had no money, knew literally three people, and had no idea what work would be like and whether I would be able to support myself in spite of the Belgian tax monolith. My house-hunt took in studios, garrets and even one or two cramped 'kots d'etudiant' (one was more or less a corridor with a single bed down one side, above a Thai restaurant on rue Dansaert).
I eventually plumped for a small studio next to the park, about five minutes walk from work. It is largely dominated by a huge 'lit mezzanine' - basically a double bunk bed. Without a lower bunk. So exactly like a bunk bed then. It's very sturdy actually and withstands - um - all kinds of testing. On the outside wall is a huge sliding patio door overlooking a garden (where no-one goes except the guy with the lawnmower and - once - a strange gentlemen with a large black poodle) and leading out onto a long balcony. It faces south, so when the sun shines it feels bright and airy (even though in reality it's small and poky).

However, now I have what I can hazily pass off as a Real Job, I want a bit more. I'd like a separate room so that my guests and I don't trip over each other in the morning when I have visitors to stay. I'd also like space to put a sofa, a dining table, maybe a larger desk... space to dance in.

I'm tired of living with a stranger's smelly old furniture: I have decided to take the plunge and go unfurnished. It's amazing how much clutter can silt up your house in just a few months: my tiny studio is overflowing with old electricity bills, piles of used notebooks filled with the incomprehensible scrawl that passes for note-taking in my world, scuffed shoes and endless cardigans worn once and big binders full of printed-out glossaries that I don't have anywhere else to keep.

I have seen three empty flats in the past two days. Each time, I climb to the top of the stairs, step through the door and marvel at the light and space and freedom of a flat without furniture. I want to spin with my arms out and fly across the floor in a string of extremely wobbly foutté turns and not-so-grande jetés.

But usually I have no desire to frighten the nice agency lady.

It's so exciting and overwhelming. Each empty space I can imagine as my new home: in my mind I fill it with sofas and a piano and friends and loaded wineglasses, and I trace my steps around the quartier, look to see which would be my local shop, which my favourite café. I can barely believe I might be able to afford a Whole Flat to myself. It is terrifying, after years of living for the next invoice to come through. I am afraid that someone will come along with a big clipboard and say: 'Stop! Who do you think you are? Who said you could live in a Real Apartment all of your own? Don't you know there's Super Tax to pay?! Go directly to Jail, do no pass Go.'

Can I really do it?


Norman said...

"Super Tax", rewelacja! :D
Nie przejmuj się obcymi i tańcz! Tak, jak ja się nie przejmuję, kiedy, idąc ulicami Krakowa, myślami będąc gdzieś indziej, wybuchnę śmiechem. Mam w nosie tych wszystkich ludzi - to nie oni się w takiej chwili dobrze bawią, a nawet jeśli, to z mojego punktu widzenia nie są najważniejsi... Przynajmniej nie na tyle, by przestać się śmiać bądź uśmiechać. :]
Poza tym, jakie jest prawdopodobieństwo, że (i) zostawisz złe wrażenie i (ii) będziesz potem zauważona oraz rozpoznana?

Jeannie said...

Go for it! There's a lot to be said for increasing the joy in your day-to-day life, and having your own "dancing space" will do this for you. :-)

Fisz i Czips said...

I almost went to do my MSc in Antwerp before deciding to stay in London. I don't know about Brussels, but it was painful to see that I could be living in a 2 bedroom penthouse for the price of our current nice but tiny 1 bedroom (34 sq. m.) London flat.

Space would be nice at some point.

inda said...

After 25 years of sharing rooms and flats I feel the same now when I rent a flat just for myself. I also do the hunting part, for a new apartment to be closer to the centre, I am checking the neighbourhood, and then picturing myself (and the cat) whether we fit there or not.
It's kinda cool :)