photo by Wilson Alvarez
Some days I curse the day Wil and I came up with this idea.
Rue the day I saw this tiny building and thought it cute.
When I’ve seperated the dogs and the kids for the 10th time,
When I’ve cleaned up for the 20th time and there’s a huge mess again, and there’s nowhere to go with anything,
When I’ve cooked dinner and the whole house is humid from pasta and scented with onions,
When my mom and sister and I have argued for the fifteenth time today,
When my temper is cranky and all I want is
I hate myself for loving tiny houses, for believing in what they stand for and being crazy enough to live in one.
I’m furious with myself for wanting to be near extended family, angry that we ever came back to our hometown, fed up with dealing with a bunch of other people’s
I go into my mom’s house, and my nephew gives me a hug, and says “I love Loo”,
and my mom puts on a big pot of coffee and tells me a funny story,
and my sister and I laugh over something dumb
and I am reminded
why I made this decision.
And I am happy.
250 square feet, a baby, 2 dogs, and a cat. and a husband. And extended family right next door.
photo by Wilson Alvarez
I am writing this sitting on the bed and if I look up I’m staring at the kitchen. And if I turn my head I’m looking at the couch, and straight ahead I gaze at my handsome husband’s back, working hard at his desk.
That’s it. Grand tour over.
Yes it is small in here.
Yes, sometimes it is annoying. So much so I want to scream.
We’ve been here for over three years. The rent is very low. All our bills are included. And that’s amazing.
We share the bathtub with my parents, and it’s in my parent’s house. Their house is dubbed “the big house.” But we do have a bathroom in our house. It has a toilet and is also jammed with a million books, the brooms and a basket of air potatoes harvested last fall and waiting to be planted in the spring. It is tiny.
Our house is a converted garage behind the big house. It’s white stucco with 2 windows and Ivy crawling up the front. It is one, open, room.
It’s about 15 steps away, give or take, from my parent’s house.
My sister lives about 5 minuted down the road. She spends most of her time here too. She hangs around for the company, and for help with her son, who’s the sweetest child ever born (in my opinion!) and is somewhere on the autism spectrum. He and Revel are best friends, but sometimes they fight, and run away in tears. They’re 1 and a half, and almost three.
What’s it like living in such close proximity to my family?
It’s wonderful, mostly. We often share food and meals. Big pots of pasta and meat, baked chickens, meatloaf, chili. Sometimes we bake. Brownies, and cookies, breads and muffins. The boys like to help, very seriously standing on chairs beside the counter. They’re good at it.
The boys are growing up close to their grandparents, which is amazing. It means there’s always a hand to hold, an ear to hear, even if mommy is tired, even if daddy is sick, or at work. Grandma has infinite patience. She plays games 1000 times, and reads the same books over and over, on demand. She gives the boys too many cookies and spoils them rotten, and mostly we look the other way. Grandpa, my step dad, is also patient, and extremely kind. He fixes toys when they’re broken and gives great high fives.
Zander, my nephew, is in love with Wil. Even when he’s having the hardest of days, “Unc” can get through to him, is there to help and give hugs.
My sister always makes Revie laugh. She’s silly, and he squeals when he sees her.
I give Zander big hugs, and teach him about the birds outside, and the bugs.
The boys run around crazy together, cry when the other one leaves. They think they’re brothers, but also cousins, and we don’t try to explain it. My favorite thing in the whole world is when they laugh together. There is no other sound on this planet so sweet, I swear.
We have two dogs that hate to be left alone. So they go back and forth between the houses as well. But they’re not great with kids so there’s a lot of shuffling around and sectioning off, which is annoying, but it seems there’s no other choice. They’re as much a part of the family as anyone else, and were here long before the kiddos showed up. When we used to travel, Buck would start to cry when we turned onto my mom’s street. He’s her grandkid too.
There’s also a ton of drama and a good bit of fighting, or at least complaining.
The kids are little, and wild, and everyone is tired some days.
Money is mostly tight, and that causes stress.
Having a child on the autism spectrum causes stress. And he requires various therapies, so his aids are always coming in and out.
If one person is in a bad mood, it rubs off on everyone.
There is very little quiet time, or peace, and that can wear you down after awhile.
But when a day goes by and I haven’t seen anyone,
I miss them,
and by evening Wil, and Revie and I will wander over
to say Hi,
take a bath,
watch some TV,
and sit and chat.
And that’s just so nice.
The Best Parts
We have a big garden outside, right next to our house,
and a slide and sandbox, bikes and shovels, and toys.
We have a community. A true community that is helpful, and annoying, and loving, and fighting, and real.
It is challenging to get along with everyone. My shortcomings are constantly thrown in my face. But it makes me better. More empathetic, more loving, less selfish. More alive.
Will we live here forever? Probably not. And we don’t have to. Eventually there will be other adventures, different small spaces to occupy.
But the memories made in these short years while the kids are small will last forever.
And the boys are growing up secure in the knowledge that there are many people who love them.
And I have the greatest gift of being mothered while mothering my own child,
sharing the joy of my son with my own mom. And Dad, and sister, and husband, and nephew.
The way that it’s supposed to be.
The way it always has been. Forever, and ever and ever.
The way it was before civilization came and made everyone sick, and sad, and seperate,
And I think it’s time to get it back.
I’m just trying to say
I didn’t write this to
convince you to live the way I do. I’m not telling you to move in with your mother, or father, or sister, or brother, or friend,
or have them move in with you.
I’m not telling you to move into a tiny house, or sell your house, or rent your house out and move into the garage, or live in a tent.
I’m just trying to say
that we can’t expect to keep living the same way on this planet, and hope that things will change.
We have to make the changes,
come up with new ideas and new ways to live.
Find a way that works for you.
And if that doesn’t work, try something else.
Challenge the status quo, think outside the box.
There is power, and excitement, and love, and joy
that comes with joining together in small family groups and little communities,
figuring out how to work together, to make it, to get by.
It is rebellious, and it is regenerative, and it is real.
And it is the future.
Thank you for listening,
photo by Michelle Johnsen