Confined Spaces

In my junior year of college, my friend David and I shared a very small room.

It was even more cramped by our unusual arrangement of furniture.  The two desks were set in the middle of the room, computer cords and power strips running across the floor to outlets on the walls.  We had the chest of drawers set in a position where you could not simultaneously open a drawer and the adjoining bathroom door.  There was no floor space for my foldable three-tier bookshelf.  We stacked it on top of the chest of drawers to save space.   And area rugs were scattered about in the strangest geometric patterns merely toavoid collision with those pieces of furniture.  Not ideal but we made it work.  I named our dorm room “The Battleship” in association with a navy destroyer’s tight quarters where I once slept during a Boy Scout overnighter.

Several months later, given the freedom of Christmas break, I shifted the furniture around in a more sensible arrangement.  Pushing the desks to the walls and utilizing all corners, we opened up “the Battleship.”  Not surprisingly, more friends came to visit in the spring semester, more movies were seen by all,  a few late night study sessions – no, procrastination frivolities  – transpired, and memories were made in “The Lodge.”  It was still a tiny living space, but this was home.

Today I recalled these episodes while going on a run.  I saw numerous children playing outdoors, taking advantage of the sunny spring weather, running around in the same yards where I, too, once played as a child.  Some yards were fenced in or some only a few square feet wide stretching from one townhouse to the next.  Looking back on those spaces now, they really weren’t all that big.  Yet from the eyes of a child they were magnificent, enormous, thrilling places to have an experience.  There was always something new to explore.  A mere tree could be a lookout post.  A dark garage could be a secret agent’s base.  A yard could be a meadow or even an entire country!

Now I look upon these places and they aren’t so large afterall.  Still, my preference remains with confined spaces… where adventure awaits.

An American proverb suggests that “bigger is better.”  I suppose that is true for people with small imaginations.  To the rest, imagination opens a small space up to a world of wonder.