“The couch is in the family room, the clothing horse is in the laundry room, the table is in the dining room, and the mat I am standing on… well it’s in the kitchen.”
This is what I explained to Liane, a friend of Warren and Sara’s who was over for dinner last week. We were in the one room that houses all of these rooms. And it was a bit of a joke about the size of the flat.
It’s very tiny. About eleven feet by twenty. To make it real… think more than single car garage, less than double.
So yes. I live in a cave.
It’s a funky one though, with exposed brick walls and a polished concrete floor. But it’s still a cave.
The cave has two closets bedrooms that each house a Queen-sized bed and single dresser, with squeeze room to get in and out. Each room has a teeny window, cloaked by large shrubbery that blots the sky. I’d hoped that when the leaves fell off, I might see some blue… maybe even sun… But no because of this other thing. The cave is in the basement.
It’s heated with a unique system: hot water piped underneath the concrete flooring.
Unfortunately, I’ve yet to master how to set the thermostat. So it’s either thirty degrees or thirteen degrees. I’ve been counseled by my landlady to err on the side of hot and mediate the temperature by opening the windows.
It’s not ideal, but I’m getting used to it.
Since moving here, I’ve learned cave dwellings are best used for sleeping or eating only. Physical movement is limited due to space constraints.
Yet I still try.
When I want to do yoga, I can just manage if I move the ottoman into the kitchen, and wedge my yoga mat into a four-foot by six-foot space in front of the sofa.
My dog sits and watches me from her pillowed perch on the couch, and sometimes, she uses me as a stepstool if she wants to go get a drink while I’m upward dogging.
In my dark, warm, and tiny flat, it’s best to spend a good chunk of the day NOT in the cave. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) anyone? This is my life—every day and not just in the winter.
Before it got cold, I used to sit out the back where there is a matching-in-size mini-patio, adjacent to the parking lot. I used to sit in the sun for hours, every day, tapping away on my computer, until late September, albeit by then I needed a blanket to make it work.
With the falling temperature, that’s now a no-go. And besides, my landlady just packed away the patio set.
In my pursuit of natural light, solutions include a LOT of time spent at the library and/or a slew of coffee shops.
I like to shake it up sometimes, so, last weekend, for a change I decided to have an outing… take a drive somewhere… I don’t do a lot of that anymore, since being downtown, I can walk anywhere from my cave.
Chapter’s was my destination. People. Books. Coffee. Where could I go wrong? Well, as it turned out, something almost did go wrong, except not at Chapter’s.
Last Saturday, the finger of fate had me in its crosshairs on the drive home from Chapters, when a car streaked in front of my mine, horizontally, to make a left across three lanes in the midst of busy weekend traffic.
It came… Out. Of. Nowhere.
I had one of those existential moments where time takes on a quantum value—whereby one object exists in two states of being. So in my head, I saw myself in the accident, though I wasn’t yet having the accident. The thought was probably a tenth of a second, but it paralyzed me.
Somehow, I snapped out of my trance and wrenched the wheel, jerking my car into the lane next to me. With no time to check for cars in that lane, I braced for a crash, visions of airbags, insurance adjustors and possibly an ambulance dancing across my eyes…
Cue a miracle.
There was no car in the other lane to smash the passenger door, and a force from somewhere gave my car the hair’s breadth of difference necessary to go from hitting the other car to not hitting the other car.
And it was all over, without happening.
The offending car sped out of my sightline, traffic surged around my car, and all that remained of the near miss was my heart thumping wildly against my breastbone.
Later, at home in my cave with my dog and my son and Sara, I snuggled into my corner of the couch while they flicked around on Netflix and argued about what to watch.
They were thinking it was just another ordinary night. But nothing in life is ordinary, is it?
I counted my blessings and tucked the night away, into the vault of miracles and memories of my magical year in this cave.
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