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The Amsterdam space quest-ion

"Do you know of any available place in Amsterdam centre? I’ve been looking for somewhere to stay and let me tell you, it ain’t easy."

If you are already living in the Dutch capital for quite some time, chances are you have heard something along these lines more than once. Or you might have even asked this yourself.

After all, it is the very question that stands in the beginning of the quest for one’s own space. Finding accommodation in Amsterdam is admittedly hard. Getting affordable accommodation even harder. But finding both cheap and spacious living space anywhere close to Centrum belongs - regrettably - in the realm of sci-fi.

It is far more likely for someone to find a new home in a habitable planet outside our solar system in the near future than moving into a sizeable canal building (or grachtengordel pand) without having to be indebted for life - or many lives for that matter.

Speaking of space travel, the main corpus of the relevant sci-fi literature basically revolves around such themes as outward journeying and the perpetual exploration of the outer cosmos.

But unlike the ever-expanding universe and its infinite space, everything in Amsterdam is - has to be - small: from the tiny streets, the cobblestone alleys and the infinitesimal parking spots, to the "petite but cosy" cafes, and, ultimately, all these narrow houses stacked side by side.

In its spiral, liquid world of all things finite, Amsterdam challenges the human predisposition for continuous expansion.

Coming to terms with such claustrophobic mentality is not easy. But it does put certain things into perspective.

Every single square metre counts, each cubic metre too. Here, breathing space is scarce and thus valuable. Having changed more than seven addresses over the last few years, I tasted the bittersweet feeling of continuous searching for suitable accommodation while getting to see different parts of the city.

In hindsight, it was definitely a rewarding experience. While on this pursuit, one needs to get progressively smarter and more inventive in order to use effectively the space bestowed upon him. It is an exercise in economy, but also modesty.

Learning to appreciate every inch of the surrounding physical space takes time but certainly has its merits. Not only inside one’s house, but also in all areas outside of it.

It is then that a deeper realisation of the true value of space starts to take shape. And as with all Amsterdam things, it is not really a question of size. It is rather a quest for discovering one’s inner space and self.

Mimis

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Mimis Chrysomallis

Freelance writer, music blogger, cinephile, guitar player. I like being in the company of cats and good books.

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