I think my many years in London has taught me quite a lot about tiny spaces, marriage and adversity. This, I’m certain, makes me well qualified to take part in the space mission to Mars in 2018 or at least act as some sort of consultant.
American businessman Dennis Tito wants to recruit an older married couple on a 500-day trip to the planet, in what will be a privately funded space mission. But he has warned any potential applicants that the conditions will be spartan, cramped and tough.
The only company the couple will have is about 300 pounds of dehydrated food and each other.
I happen to know a thing or two about tight spaces. It’s hard to live in London without feeling eternally cramped. There’s the daily commute on the tube, where I have spent many journeys unable to even raise an arm to read my book because I am pinned to a person’s body or a pole. For my disbelieving American readers, this is not an exaggeration.
There there were the three years I spent in a one-bedroom flat, living with the English Husband and the newborn Chatterbox, who used to sleep in a crib next to our bed. She eventually got a bed of her own and could walk and talk. She was still sleeping next to us. It started to get kind of creepy.
When I was 7 months pregnant with our second child, we finally moved to a flat with two whole bedrooms. I’ve been living in something that size ever since. I’m hoping that one day I might move up to three actual bedrooms, but this seems an unattainable goal in London for people on average wages.
In the meantime, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on size and get used to squeezing into boxes that also double as bedrooms, offices that effectively become closets and my indispensable coffee tables, which have served as my dining tables for many, many years.
So I have a word of advice for this unknown couple who would be foolish to undertake a solitary trip to space in a high-tech shoebox:
- Develop the ability to tune things out. If you can’t meditate, grab some ear plugs and use them whenever you sense a fight is in the zero-gravity air.
- Get separate beds or sleep in bunks. You will not survive 500 days sleeping next to this person. Don’t even think about it. It will save you endless intergalactic tossing and turning.
- Take in the view. What you will certainly have on your side is this amazing wide expanse of space. Drink it in. Imagine yourself out there when your partner starts to get on your nerves. Count yourself lucky that you aren’t staring into someone else’s bathroom window.
- Learn to let things go. No matter what you do, the capsule will always feel that little bit messy. Just go with it.
- Drink. If they aren’t planning to provide you with alcohol, insist on it. Use it as a form of tranquilizer.
- Listen to music through head phones. Only take them off at meal times or in a space emergency.
- Engage in conversation only when you have something pleasant to say. If you can’t think of anything nice to say, put the head phones back on and pretend you can’t hear.
- Get yourself ready for the space flight by standing in a tiny shower cubicle. Stand there for several hours, attempt to bend or shave your legs. I can lend you mine if you need it.
- Never show your
adversaryloved one any form of weakness. It will be used against you.
- If you don’t have small children, borrow some. Go to a hotel room for several days and don’t leave. If you can survive the ordeal, you are ready.