Guest Post by: Jillian Schiralli
About one year ago I couldn’t be more excited. I had just signed a lease for my very OWN studio apartment in the East Village of Manhattan. DREAMS were coming true. It was teeny tiny and expensive but it was all mine.
Fast forward to 2 months ago when the boyfriend moved in to this teeny, tiny place so that we could save money for a 1 bedroom apartment. It’s not an ideal living situation, but we both work a lot, hang out with friends outside of the apartment and know that it’s only 4 months. Not to mention that splitting this rent will help save money for the move.
Now…fast forward to today. We are both in this small apartment quarantined together. Boyfriend temporarily with no job and nowhere to go, and I am working from home. Not ideal.
You may ask, how small is teeny tiny? Well friends, teeny tiny is LESS THAN 200 square feet. For those of you that live in a larger apartment or in *gasp* a whole house, 200 sq ft is the size of a small bedroom. That’s right folks, my whole apt is the size of a bedroom. The only alone time we get is when one of us is in the bathroom. Let’s just say I have been taking longer than usual showers for a little self-care.
We live in NYC because of all the fun things to do there that are outside of our apartments. We deal with small, pricy apartments because we enjoy the cultural experiences, theatre, restaurants, parks, and the opportunities. What do we do when all of this is taken away and we are inside these tiny living spaces with nothing to do, no outside space, and nowhere to escape?
Well I am definitely no expert, but I thought I could let you know what we have been doing to occupy our time in this room so we don’t murder one another.
1. Cooking together
This CAN be a source of annoyance as neither of us is great in the kitchen (although he thinks he is 🙄) but because we aren’t chefs this takes up A LOT of time. Reading recipes, gathering ingredients on high shelves (we are both vertically challenged), arguing if the roasted chicken is done or not because we don’t have a meat thermometer, etc. One thing we can both agree on is that we love to eat, so even if an argument happens in the kitchen/living room/bedroom, we get over it pretty quickly.
For at least part of the day when I’m working or he is learning Spanish via DuoLingo, we DO NOT SPEAK to one another. We are literally 5 ft from one another at all times, but doing our own thing is key. I’ll wave to him from time to time or we will exchange a smile, but in the absence of exiting to another room, we keep our mouths shut! This works, people.
Now you may ask…how do you workout in such a small place? Well it’s not easy but we have a trick. On most workout videos there is a “modifier”. A person who does all the moves, but with no impact. We follow the modifier, that way we aren’t jumping, knocking things over, or smacking each other in the face. This is another activity that takes up at least an hour where we are quiet, focused and working together but separately (if that makes sense). Now I will say I do get annoyed at times because the boyfriend gets super pumped up about the workout and I’m a bit less enthusiastic, but other than that it’s a necessity for staying sane. Also, we have to move most of the furniture around so we have room for the workout so add another 20 minutes to this activity. Shout out to Shaun T. with his absolutely insane Beachbody workout and ClassPass for their free Barre Mat classes.
4. Binge a TV show
This one is an obvious winner as we both love a good TV show. We pick something that may have a new season out now that we have never seen and start from the beginning and catch up. After dinner we watch 1-2 episodes. Right now for us, it’s Westworld. It’s a great way to focus on something other than the news and have something to look forward to the next day. We take turns picking what we watch next as the boyfriend loves an action movie and I’m into 90’s thrillers and romcoms. Don’t judge.
5. Going for walks
Getting out every few days is ESSENTIAL. Being cooped up in such a small space invokes murder inducing thoughts, and as much as I love a true crime doc I don’t want to be the lead character in one. The amount of times I’ve counted the boyfriend using the bathroom in a day can send me into a blind rage, but nothing a two hour walk can’t fix. We wear our masks (boyfriend survived SARS in Hong Kong so we follow his rules) and I don’t like standing next to strangers on a normal day, so the 6 foot rule is a piece of cake for me. Whether we walk around the neighborhood and eventually land at the grocery or we walk the Williamsburg Bridge, we wave to puppies and for those few hours we just take in nature. I can tell you one thing…I will never take going outside worry free for granted EVER again. I thought I was a homebody, but now that I’m in a 200 sq ft apartment during a quarantine that thought has changed drastically.
With all that being said there is a silver lining at the end of the rainbow (that’s not the phrase I’m looking for what I’m too tired to think of the right one). WE ARE MOVING INTO A 600 sq ft 1 BEDROOM APARTMENT ON MAY 29TH!!!! It’s a miracle that we found a space during this time, but one fell into our lap and we snatched it up. It even has a small outdoor space. Tears of joy have been shed and now the only thing left to do is not murder one another for the rest of this quarantine. Can we do it? I’m optimistic that we can.