girlsdontcry's Diaryland Diary


A maxi-length entry about my adventures in minimalism

I wonder what I do. I'm just going to write this and see if in the end it means anything to me.

I can't remember when it started or why, but it's been going on at least since February 2001. When I started to strip back my life, to embrace minimalism, to get rid of things I deemed unnecessary.* I know that I must have been doing that already by then because when I moved to Hong Kong for an indefinite period of time, I did so with the contents of my life in one suitcase. I always travel light, but even so, one suitcase kind of seems extreme.

Maybe it was just laziness -- me not bothering to work out how to ship stuff out or wanting to pay for extra luggage. I don't know, just that I moved to a new country by myself with one suitcase.

Then, in Hong Kong, I guess I realised what I could live without things even more. I lived in a hotel for a month, so no kitchen, no nothing, and it was fine. Then I lived in this tiny apartment, with no cooker, three plates, three cups, three glasses, and that was a revelation. Fewer plates, less washing up. And I loved it.

No toaster, I didn't make coffee ever at home, I stopped having any kind of stores in the kitchen much. I tried to go native, what little I had was all local kinds of stuff. I gave up on buying familiar brands, because I didn't need them. Except Evian, I bought that more than ever, but that was because I gave up drinking other drinks, because I only needed water.

Then I guess I sort of changed what I ate. I don't know, part of it was hating those expats so much, I didn't want to be like them, so if they wanted to go to expensive foreign places to eat, I'd try to go to some "real" Chinese place. And if they turned their noses up at something "gross", I'd have to eat it.

It was so different there to here. No obsession with home improvements that everyone has in the UK, and that suited me, living in a rented, neutral-decorated apartment that felt completely temporary. No obsession with Jamie fucking Oliver, no conversations about different kinds of olive oil, and I was really very happy about that. Not that I've not participated in that kind of conversation, but I was just over it.

And then I finally got up the courage to strip back my personal life and get rid of the boyfriend. I guess because I'd finally confirmed to myself that I didn't need him.

I came back to London and I didn't care I was moving to a small place because smaller place, less housework, right? I never bought an iron because if I didn't have an iron, I wouldn't have to do any ironing. Brilliant, no?

But I don't know if it's all gone too far now. Like I took away too much stuff and didn't replace it with anything. And then, if there's a vacuum, well, it's a law of physics or something, it will get filled with other stuff. Wait, I'm going to look.

OK, I was going to say something about a vacuum being filled, but what the fuck do I know. I found this instead -- The vacuum is seething with activity.


As a complete non sequitur, I love the line of Billy Bragg's:

the laws of gravity are very very strict
and you're just bending them for your own benefit

Right. But back to minimalism. Yes. I just don't know. Getting to nothing can be something, it was kind of fun, I guess I started to feel kind of superior to anyone who put their hopes for happiness into worldly things; people who, as Douglas Coupland suggested, confused shopping with creativity. I only needed friends and fun, I told myself.

I think, now, that I would like a really comfortable chair to sit on so I can read comfortably.

* Obviously with a completely subjective definition of what was necessary. For example, lipstick was still necessary. Vases were not.

11:07 a.m. - 2002-10-07


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