Why I sleep on the floor.

There is a fine line between being principled and being eccentric (or, eccentric and straight-up strange) and I—all pirouettes and salsa steps—I am dancing all over that line.

When I moved to New York City, I limited my possessions to what I could fit on my bicycle. If it fit into two saddlebags and two backpacks, then I could take it. (see here for more on that). This limitation left me feeling unencumbered, and all was well and good while I crashed at a relative’s apartment. With everything furnished, what more did I need? I had a bed, I had a well-equipped kitchen.

Then I moved into a Brooklyn artist’s community with a friend. No kitchen utensils, no furniture, no bed. Furniture we could scavenge, kitchen utensils, well, my roommate had the basics. But the bed, the bed.

And this is where it got weird. There was no good option. A mattress, a futon, or even an offered air mattress would not fit on the bicycle.

The solution: used army surplus camping mat, $7, Ebay. Still fits on the bicycle, and provides me with a precious inch or two of padding between unforgiving hardwood floors and me.

Problematically, I vacillated a bit too long over my bedding decisions, and while I wait for the mat to come in, have been sleeping on just a sheet. While my back is nice and stretched out, my bony hips are a bit sore from unconsciously rolling onto my side.

Last night I discovered that if you spill water on the sheet , it does not approximate a water bed.

Yes, it’s a little eccentric, a little weird. I’ve caught my roommate and friends earnestly debating and imagining the moment when a future girlfriend discovers my sleeping arrangements (Ah, how bachelordom makes this so simple).

Roommate eating on a chest of drawers/dinnertable. Those who live in unfurnished apartments shall not cast the first stones...

In terms of lifestyles, the path from principles to pragmatism is certainly paved with compromises. But I want to emphasize here that I think it silly to get all fire and brimstone on people we perceived to be “compromised”—such a thought makes one go from being an idealist to being an ideologue. Conversely, the worse thing about those who have already swung to the compromising side of the spectrum is their tendency to scoff condescendingly at those at the other end as naïve, silly, soon to learn how “things really are”.

For both sides, humbly and gently encouraging others to live as much—and as honestly—according to their ethical, environmental, and political principles as they are comfortable with is the right way to go.

For right now a bed that is an inch thick and can be rolled up and tied to a bicycle works for me. I made a decision in terms of how much stuff I own, and I am trying, despite the potential bruises to my hips, my love life, and my dignity, to stick by that decision.

Besides, you should see the guest bed.

NOTE: There is a gray zone. At some point, I will own furniture, even if I scavenge it, and I do have pots and pans, even if they are my apartment mates’. So it should be specified that this bicycle model pertains to personal items that I feel a specific need/want to own and am willing to pay for, accommodate.


About Big Adam

A NYC doorman, a community organizer, wannabe ape, sometimes blogger, sometimes writer, always crossword puzzle incompleter, I will ride bicycles with your papa, dance Bhangra with your mama, take you on dates that cost nada.
This entry was posted in Living Deliberately, Sustainable Living and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Why I sleep on the floor.

  1. “Ads by Google: Memory Foam Mattress-$499” Oh Google, you’re so ironic

  2. Donna says:

    Wow. Spooky. I just read a New York Times article about limiting possessions and posted it on my Facebook page because I love it that much. Then, I came back to my blog and clicked on your link from the comment you left earlier to learn more about you and I find this post. Very inspiring. I am going to try to live more frugally. We almost rented a house (I am relocating next week) but now I am glad we went with a smaller apartment. I really like your blog and not just this post. I’ll have to check back! Thanks for stumbling upon mine as well. Oh, and here’s that great link about happiness, possessions, etc: http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/110275/but-will-it-make-you-happy

    • big Adam says:

      Thanks for the article recommendation!…I’m going to count up my possessions soon and see how I measure up. Thanks for the encouraging words, very glad you like it, and yes, the blogosphere can be an eerie place…amazing how many of us think alike.

  3. runrgrl6 says:

    “For both sides, humbly and gently encouraging others to live as much—and as honestly—according to their ethical, environmental, and political principles as they are comfortable with is the right way to go.”

    Love that line! It’s going on my ‘fridge. When I started downsizing, it was from post-divorce necessity, which seemed to put the needs vs. wants dilemma in a more enlightened framework. I’ve recently begun bicycle touring, and can absolutely relate to the “if it can fit on a bike” circumstance. When friends see how little I have in my tiny apartment, their pitiful reactions are amusing because they want to buy me something to fill in the empty space! Guess it’s all relative. Living frugally is my lifestyle of choice; I’ll check back with your blog as I continue to eliminate my nonessentials.

    • big Adam says:

      I”m glad you’ve discovered bicycle touring! Even more glad that that line means so much to you. The nice thing about writing is that it forces you to discover a different way of articulating something that can just float about in your head, and when that line came out, I realized it was the distillation of a lot of things I was thinking.

      It seems like you are finding this pretty freeing, but let me know how it develops!

      Again, thank you for your comment!

    • big Adam says:

      p.s. are those ortliebs I spy in your photo?

      • Donna says:

        Ortliebs indeed! The waterproof quality came in handy during two days of my first tour, so the investment has already paid off. I also found that drivers give a much wider margin when passing if I have a loaded bike, when compared to the near misses on my road bike. Thinking about clipping those bags on every day… 😉

      • big Adam says:

        mm…i love my ortliebs…waterproof, reflective…and so, so stylish

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