April marked the beginning of my part time tiny house lifestyle, and it was not smooth sailing, let’s just get that much out of the way. Trip Number One, to a small motel room in Amish Country, started two days late because of a delay in the delivery of a traveling scanner. April Fools Day probably wasn’t the wisest day to start a new life anyway. –
Lesson one: Be flexible.
Lesson Two: Expect your navigation device to get restless and fall asleep. A human, you can whack on the shoulder. When you’re driving alone, you’re stuck pulling over onto the shoulder just to make sure your device hasn’t lost interest in assisting you. Then you have to wait for a red sports car to cut over into the passing lane so you can actually get back on your journey.
Lesson Three: Do not pack more than your back can carry, and once packed, make sure your Stuff can’t slide around in transit. Twelve banker boxes full of paper sit quietly behind me going west. Eight banker boxes are far less cooperative going back east.
Lesson Four: Find a way to get your emails every day. Even a three-year perfect payment history will not protect you from losing your cell service while you sit at the side of the road trying to call AAA.
Lesson Five: Never assume that you can leave your Stuff in the vehicle until your next trip. Your son might get a job and need to haul his sofa to a new apartment.
Lesson Six: Plan for a lot of sitting. When traffic is slow, I have learned to blow bubbles out the window. For an extra advantage, the inevitable spilled soap is great for coffee dribbles. Keep water nearby for these laundry issues, as well as for thirst and medication. The smaller the bottle, the less likely you are to bump into the ceiling to get to the bottom of it.
The Biggest Lesson: Laugh. Whatever goes wrong will teach you something about yourself or the world around you. Sometimes both.
Living on the road has a much greater appeal now than when I was a kid sharing a tent with a bunch of brothers. At least half of it is probably genetic, and the other half is circumstance.
I remember the family trip that formed my approach to all the packing decisions that followed. I was 16 and we had rented a motor home for a heavily planned journey around the country. As the only female teenager, I was given more latitude than the others in terms of packing. My hair accessories alone, which included soup-can rollers in those days, took up more space than my little sister. She could verify this, because she was not trapped in the bunk with me the night my head got stuck between my pillow and the ceiling. Circling my room, I gathered everything except what I knew I could leave behind.
This is the packing method I used for everything. From purse to diaper bag, car to basement, everything was ready for possible use at a moment’s notice.
Until it wasn’t.
Like car keys that keep burrowing into the bottom of your pocketbook, I eventually noticed that the convenience of owning something was no longer worth the time it took to retrieve it. So now comes the time to stop packing and start living.
Very few of us have the good fortune to start fresh at retirement. Previous decisions restrict our options. Downsizing is a tedious process that takes so long that we sometimes die before we complete the job, leaving the work to those we want least to burden. In a couple of weeks I start the process of removing my Stuff from the house where I spent half my life suffocating in, living part time in a series of small spaces, and returning to the place where I raised my children, refreshed and prepared to waltz where the baggage once covered the dance floor. And free to spike the punch bowl.
Thirty two years ago we had not yet moved in. Finally, after sorting and piling and flinging and stashing, we have figured out which one of us is leaving. Me.
The kitchen table has been a hot spot for thirty-two years now, and I can finally say that it has seen its last Thanksgiving Dinner. And the TV room has also seen its last football game.
My oldest son is at Base Camp on Mt Everest. The mountain here at home is sure to tumble. I took the other sons to a restaurant. Spouse remained at home, as always. It was great.
However thankful I may be for the years of overabundance, I am ready now have Less Much. Nowhere am I more aware of this than when I see my kitchen table. What I mean to say, of course, is when I DON’T see my kitchen table.
We are all such creatures of habit. Whenever I crack an egg into a pan, a voice inside me says, “This is your brain on drugs.” I can’t help it. I’m pretty sure that if I didn’t hear that voice I would notice, and thus I’d hear it afterall. And so, whatever is in my arms when I walk into the house lands on the table. A couple of things have been there for a year. Seriously.
The good news is that I’ve had a table at all. The better news is that it isn’t coming with me when I leave. I have finally begun to see these Things as stuff that sucks the life out of me, and I’m almost ready to live.
What exactly is left behind when we move on to a new lifestyle? This question hit home for me last week when a health issue sent me to the Breast Surgical Oncologist.
My left breast. It took up a lot of room. It was no longer useful. I couldn’t sell it. I wouldn’t donate it. It was only the memories attached to it that I really wanted.
But when push came to shove, I couldn’t imagine having to part with it. Or part with part of it. Unless I was dying, I wanted to keep it. And so I did.
Fortunately, the surgeon agreed and I came home with it and found the perfect spot to give it the honor it deserves. I will take it with me when I leave here, knowing that I will always be able to revisit the decision at a later time.
When you expect to find dust bunnies under your hoard, the last thing that comes to mind is bubble riders.
These precious things, with their delicate wings once covered in dust, like to ride on all kinds of bubbles and tickle humans who are elsewhere. There is no way they are going to help with housecleaning; they have loftier goals.
The benefit for me was that with each wing I dusted off, and each wish for a happy journey, I found new space in my home and spaciousness in my soul, which I filled with music and light and love instead of more boxes.
And so the connection to my Stuff is loosened, and the idea of blessing someone else with my posessions takes hold. The clothes that will never fit my lifestyle, the crafts I will never make, the repairs I will never attempt, all are going away. Slowly. So as not to trip on a tiny faery.