My junior year at tech I moved into my own apartment. It was a rather spare space with one cushioned chair (where I spent the majority of my waking hours), a table with a couple of additional chairs, and a bed (my first at tech--before I'd always slept on couches) all inhabiting a single large room. The only sprucing up I did was to scatter glow-in-the-dark stars over the wall above my bed and put my stereo and a few books on the enormous entertainment center on one wall (coincidentally, that's also the last apartment where I didn't have television). It was my space, in a way, but I never really moved into it, never made it mine. I was always camping in some sense. The furniture was, of course, standard housing furniture, and the dishes I used were borrowed or disposable. I'll never forget the first time I tried to cook with my then boyfriend in that apartment. We made a delicious Thai dish with coconut milk and chicken and it wasn't until we went to eat it that I realized the only silverware I had was a set of bamboo chopsticks from the local Mongolian restaurant, and a couple of plastic forks gathered from other local eateries.
Fast forward to my newest own apartment and it's quite a different story. I can't move by myself anymore because I have real furniture, and even without the furniture I have an impressive collection of stuff that has to be carted from one spot to another. One thing that hasn't changed is my lack of dishes. I have wonderful, high-quality pans for cooking, but for eating I'm limited to a motley array of rubbermaid storage containers, the green glasses Karla inherited from someone else and never used, and a couple of plates I snagged at a yard sale. Money's a little tight after moving (predictably) so I had every intention of not buying anything unnecessary, but yesterday morning I realized I'd used all of my round rubbermaids to store leftovers for lunch and consequently had nothing suitable for my cereal. What did I do? I went out and bought myself a couple of cheap glass bowls, and a couple of small plates while I was at it.
It's a strange thing to realize I'm not willing to camp out in a place anymore--not only do I want a space that's mine, I want to have in it all of the various utensils and accoutrements to which I've become accustomed. I'm feeling ambivalent about this aspect of growing up. On one hand it's probably a good thing I've come to appreciate the niceties of a real home to the extent that I now try to create a home for myself, but on the other hand I kind of miss living a spartan life, enduring the slight discomforts of making do with what's at hand instead of immediately going out and buying the "optimal" solution.