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Hannah Cao


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Fitting perfectly into small rooms



I only realised my love for smaller spaces when I moved into the bigger flat that I have now after starting my current full-time job. I do love my flat right now, it is perfect for my needs and a big step-up from my old student apartment that always got too hot in the Summer and where I could barely invite friends into. Even though I always thought I’d be glad to be living in a big space, there’s just something special about small rooms that I absolutely love.

My first small room was my bedroom in my childhood home before moving to the city that is Dresden, Germany, to study. I shared it with my younger sister, pretty much ever since she was born when I was seven, and spent days in it writing little stories that I would upload online for strangers to read. That’s where I cried as a teenager and studied for tests. That’s where I hid after fights with my dad and where I had hushed conversations on the phone with my crush. It was home because it had everything I owned: my clothes, my youth, my imperfect little dust specks in the corner.

My second small room was my first ever student apartment after I moved for university. I was alone so all I really needed was a cooking nook, a single bed, a bathroom with a toilet and a shower. I would wash my clothes downstairs in the room with shared washing machines and driers where each round would cost 25 cents. I would sleep in my tiny bed and study on a tiny desk and eat on it, too. It was home because I saw everything that I owned in one glance when I woke up: my laptop with the Word docs, the desk with pens and folders, the fridge and the kitchen that was clean at all times or I wouldn’t be able to sleep, and the two-steps long hallway with the entrance door, locked.

My third small room was my room I rented in London for the year I was there. It was smaller than my student apartment and didn’t even have a desk. I shared the bathroom and kitchen with the landlord. The window was as wide as the entire room so when I opened it, it almost felt like a tiny door to the outside world, which faced the front of the building with the neighbours’ cars. It was home because it hugged me on scary days and I could sit right next to the rain.

I’ve made these three small rooms my home, though I never stayed too long. It was a talent of mine, perhaps. Every house felt like home for a couple of weeks, months, a year. No matter how little the stuff in it was that belonged to me. I’d been running around finding places where I could breathe, even if a little cramped, and they felt like home town, coming-of-age and city life. Home was wherever I was at the time. In each of those small rooms I knew some day I’ll be grown and I’ll be fine. I’ll pack up cardboard boxes and find a home again.