No, not outer space. Just one Aspie Bunny chick’s musing on her perception of space and how this has evolved over time and through various life changes.
I grew up in a time and place when there the old Malay-influenced kampung villages still existed. Our family home, a gated residential two storey house with 4,000 square feet of garden, was a humble, modest one by comparison to those of my father’s friends – lavish sprawling 10,000 square feet of graden and huge bungalow houses. Inside our garden, dad planted 4 large fruit trees – two mango trees and two rambutan trees. One of the mango trees, the Maha Chinook, had such sweet fruit that it was always riddled with super-sized angry red ants which packed a fierce bite! I shared the back bedroom with a small balcony where I could just reach over to grab the mangoes from the top of the tree, very handy! I used to wish we had a larger house, with more room for me to mess around in. There was, however so much to do at home. Dad was an avid hobbyist, bringing his hobbies to professional level, such is the intense focus of the Aspie perfectionist (yes, dad exhibited clear traits of an Aspie too, where’d you think I got my autism from then?). He converted the bedroom downstairs into his work room and I loved going inside, just to gawk or secretly finger all his tools and fantastic array of screws, nuts, bolt, electrical circuit boards, all other wonderful geek stuff! I inhabited the backyard a lot, where we had a duck pen (very smelly, ducks are!), which we converted into a rabbit hutch and pen, and where I grew okra on the fence with mum’s help, experimented on my chemistry set and created various kinds of ‘creative’ messes.
When I first arrived in Hong Kong, I cried myself to sleep in the sensory assaultive environment of constant traffic noise, high up in the air, inside a 420 square foot flat belonging to my father’s friend, and where I slept in the living room. I lived variously in different spaces in HK, but always tiny and invasively noisy, except for the year and half I spent in a tiny rented room in a terrace house where the then assistant director of the university health service and his family lived. I chose that room because it was set in a very quiet hill next to a cemetery and the only inconvenience was that there was only one bus going in and out, once every hour on the hour. Miss that and you’d have to walk a very long way out to the main road. Who’d have thought that the assistant director of the heath service would have such filthy, disgusting habits? It was a nightmare house – the house was beautiful but the family members were dirty, stinky, messy toilets, they never flushed the loo after they’d used it, horrible table manners, and they had an untrained and vicious little papillon (or whatever) dog who liked to pee on my feet as I was eating at the kitchen table! I did a quick exit when the house became infested with fleas, which landed me in hospital. To this day, I am highly paranoid about insects and possible infestations. The only comfort I derived in that horrible house was the squirrel who lived in the tree just outside my bedroom window. To this day, I can still recall the smell of that space, and I still gag at its olfactory memory!
Anyhow, 350 square feet was the tiniest little space I had ever lived in. When I moved back to HK to embark on my M.Phil degree, I lived first in 500 square foot one bedroom flat, and later 689 square foot, which was a very lovely and ideal space for me. I thought I’d got used to small spaces.
Until I came to Sydney and settled in Paddington. I have now lived for a year and 2 months inside a teeny tiny box, set at the edge of busy Oxford street, 128 square foot of living space for me and Lucy, and more noise than I have ever had to live with! I have got used to the cramped space, it helps me to visualise Lucy in her former life, locked inside a 1x2m crate all day except for the turn outs for pee and poo, and the training sessions, and then I feel grateful even to have 128 square feet! She is happy now, in this tiny hole in the sky – it’s huge compared to her former cage! So the space doesn’t bother me so much anymore, it is the other sensory elements that are increasingly grating on my hyper senses lately.
Right now, I am beginning to yearn for a quiet peaceful sleep without having to battle constant sensory overload (it becomes insane during the weekends, when I have to endure the sounds and smells of drunken revelry and even vomiting in the streets), for a shower that doesn’t make me break down in tears with sudden spurts of scalding and freezing water, for a floor that doesn’t peel and make me cringe when I walk barefoot (which I like to do) on it because its varnish is peeling from damp, a ceiling that leaks and drips crazily during heavy storms, and an ancient corroded internet wiring system that causes frequent daily drops and has now permanently slowed my connection down to snail dail-up pace even though I am paying what to me is a lordly sum for broadband. Oh, and not to mention the fire alarms going off at least once a week because certain tenants in the building keep burning their cooking – like, WHY don’t they ever learn?
The sensorial overload is building, like a kind of horrible stretto passage, the end of which is not in sight yet. If I am unable to find a less sensory-disturbing and dog-friendly space to rent at my already overstretched budget, I shall have to stay put. My landlady is a lovely person and I am very lucky to have found her, at least I know I am safe here. But I shudder at the thought of having to continue to bravely battle this sensory overload for yet another year or two.
Wish me luck. More apartment viewing today. Will update everyone on the adventures of Bunny and Princess in space!