I am obsessed with the Tiny House movement lately. I follow several blogs, a Facebook page devoted to pictures of tiny houses, everything Tumbleweed, and the list is growing by the day. There is something about that lifestyle that is enchanting. You can live in a Victorian cottage, but one that’s small and dainty. It’s on wheels so you can drag it wherever the wanderlust dictates. They are inexpensive, allowing many people to live debt free and in beautiful places. I read Thoreau in high school like everyone else. I want to suck the marrow from life and live deliberately too.
Brian and I have talked many times about not wanting a huge house, even if we could afford it. We want enough, but no more than that. The concept of what, exactly, is enough is a nebulous one, but I thought I was committed to non-excess. We have been looking at houses in the Redlands area for a few weeks now and most of those have been small, generic tract homes. That is what we thought we would end up with.
There is a plan for an 800+ square foot, 3 bedroom house on the Tumbleweed Homes website. The B-52. I’ve been dreaming about living in that house for a long time. I would hire a carpenter to build everything into the house like I was living on a boat. I would add a basement for a full laundry room and canning/root cellar area so I can be a homesteader with a huge vegetable garden somewhere outside. Brian and I would raise our small family all on top of each other on a plot of wild land somewhere. We would be free, and we would be happier. Like the Ingalls family. Green tomato pie and dancing on haystacks fill my daydreams.
This weekend I watched a documentary on Netflix about a guy, no prior building experience, who built his own tiny house in his parent’s backyard and then moved it to several gorgeous acres in the desert. His girlfriend helped him, and it was this magical bonding experience. There were so many interviews with other people living in tiny homes along the way. I was left a little sad at the end of it all; not the reaction I expected.
I don’t know when, but eventually I realized that these people were living in roughly the space of my living room rug. Well planned? Yes. But Brian and I often feel cramped in our 600+ square foot apartment. A lot of the problem is that we are not clean people. Our last apartment was 400+ square feet that was always trashed, full of stacks of books and dirty dishes. In 400+ square feet I would forget to hang up my jacket and the whole house would feel messy, because everywhere I looked there were things out of place. One trip out of the litter box for the cat and bits of clay were spread over the entire kitchen and into the living room because they were so close together. That was when we were behaving ourselves. A single craft project could trash the place for weeks. It was disheartening.
Besides my inability to be a model housekeeper, I am infamous in the plant world for my black thumb of death. I kill the kind of plants people tell me are impossible to kill. Houseplants, you say? Those don’t have a chance. I kill cacti. I kill air plants. I am sure that I am perfectly able to gain some rudimentary gardening skills (after all, my mother has them). I’m equally sure that the journey is long and arduous between green reaper and homesteader extraordinaire.
And then there is the conundrum of land itself. Have you priced land lately? It’s so expensive! I suppose we could build the on-wheels type of tiny home and circumnavigate some problems, but we wouldn’t be able to get permits to build anything more permanent until we owned the land. My B-52 is not possible right now. Brian and I priced it all out one night and found that it wouldn’t be any cheaper to live in a tiny house when all was said and done. Maybe it would be cheaper than a mansion on the hill, but it would be about the same as our modest rent in our small apartment.
I realized also, that I really like the things that debt gives me: my elite college education, my glossy white car; the possibility of a beautiful house near orange groves with plenty of room for our family to grow. I want Netflix, and a Target within 20 minutes of the house. I want to be able to pick up dinner on the way home. I can have a corgi like the one in all the blogs I follow online. We can take pictures of them and Photoshop foam weapons into their little paws and make them run, their little stumpy legs bounding. I can schlep groceries in my little green fiat. I can start with not killing tomatoes, or something, and work my way up to a whole garden. I can remember how much a loathe to quilt.
We made an offer on a house in Redlands. The house is a block from the university on a cul-de-sac and the yard is big and weedy. There is a vast and beautiful orange grove just three blocks away. The house is also big at 1700 square feet. I will have 3 toilets to pee in, if I want to. The kitchen is HUGE. It’s wonderful; everything I ever wanted and never thought I would get. But here I am, the champion of enough and no more, jumping on the biggest house I can afford. That surprised me. It made me realize (again) that the stories I tell myself about who I am are often bunk.
But there is something about that house (that cozy, cozy house) that makes me want to cuddle up in front of the fireplace on a rainy day, and live the Tiny House Brand, semi-rural life with plenty of elbow room to spare. Brian has already drawn up plans for our vegetable garden. If everything goes through as it’s supposed to, I expect to be a very happy debt ridden lady.
Cross your fingers for us, okay? We still have a lot of inspections and negotiations to go through.