Because there is something magical about the prospect of starting over, there is also something very sobering about losing that magic to a series of realities.
So far this year, I have been to two Tiny House Expos and spent up to a week in eleven different tiny options, eight of which have been at Tiny Estates. Most of the education has been about me, not my dreams. Now it’s time prepare for the final exam, and I’m having that nightmare where I don’t remember ever going to class. It’s time to sh*t or get off the Luggable Loo.
What I know so far is that I’m still a work in progress. My dreams and my reality weave a story of slow progress. I do not “turn over a new leaf” so much as toss it back into the air to watch if it lands somewhere else in the yard. I try on several coats before deciding which one keeps me warm in the winter without making me sweat in the grocery store. I sit in a chair and wonder about a new walking route I’m not taking. I always know that in the back of my head there is a better answer to a harder question.
And that means trying things that need tweaking, don’t work out, distract, confuse, annoy and exasperate. For this reason and a million others, I am re-evaluating the decision to go from a hoarded house to a tiny one.
All of the directions from my October Tiny Estates unit to the Tiny House Expo in Maryland took me directly through a town I had promised not to visit. More precisely, I had promised to try not to visit. So being a somewhat hip and modern woman, I took a poll on Facebook to get input from my friends, which resulted in a shocking number of morally conservative responses. None of them was interested in fuel conservation.
During my return trip – where I had 3% cell battery and no charging cord – Google Maps, in an apparent effort to conserve time and gas as well as cell phone battery, sent me directly through Heartbreaker’s hometown – on his wedding anniversary no less – to make a left onto … Memory Lane. I kid you not. I would have taken a screenshot right then and there, but my phone died.
By the time the week was over, I was back to business, catching an ordinary event on the odometer as I drove onto Route 283…. This is the highway that flooded last month, leaving me half convinced that a spy was attached to my tow hitch.
There is no room for clutter in my new life, and that includes the stuff in my head and on my devices. Coincidence is going to have to be nothing more than co↔incidence; two unrelated occurrences. Fate and Destiny are easily spotted in The Real World because they belong on the other side of the river with the witches and fairies. There are plenty of concrete issues with making a dream a reality without confusing the process with fantastical crossovers. There is little room for messing around with symbolic messages from nowhere.
Besides resolving the issue of which land I was parked in for October, another event happened for the first time. My sons visited. I suspect they were relieved to see that I was going to a real place every month, and that there was actually room for us all to sleep on real mattresses, eat real food and connect to real internet. Middle Son was even disappointed that there was no real tent. Sadly, between the four of us we couldn’t come up with a real lighter, and the s’mores were left for another occasion.
This unit was built by Spencer Sousa, and its delivery on September 1st made Tiny Estates the largest community of tiny houses on wheels in the world. It was the first unit available that was built with a metal frame. There were periodic glitches with the internet connection, but it otherwise shared the general features of the others. It’s called The Capital and named for Univest, one of many partners allowing this concept to come to fruition.
There have been so many surprises in my first year of converting my lifestyle. Heck, there have been surprises in all my years of living, period. You can plan for just a small percentage of them, but in the end you need to just go with the flow.
IF I had stayed on 83 beyond York after leaving the Expo, IF I had ignored the whispers, IF I had been traveling just a few days later, I might have been another fatality in an eleven vehicle pile-up, leaving all my worldly possessions strewn across the road, and not a shred of it would be useful to anybody.
Don’t make your dream a reality. Make your reality a reality. Dream your dreams.
As I mentioned in my last entry on both blogs, I generally keep a clear division between my real life and my fantasy life, which is especially good because there is a complicated exchange rate between the two states. In Figment the currency is acorns. In Reality I have to use cash.
Now I acknowledge an increasingly fluid view of The Real World, but this part-time tiny house living is not exactly funded with acorns. I am waiting for my ship to come in, and it’s so late that I worry it’s at the bottom of the ocean somewhere, providing a sweet little home for a family of mermaids. Mermaids are water fairies, but they are rarely found in the middle of that river which separates the two worlds in which I live. And so I am currently living on Plastic, which is yet another example of a state which is both real and fantastical.
The practical basis for going tiny from hoarder/collector is financial. The dream home was a nightmare. The decisions and the duties were made by two very different people, and the children suffered for it, right along with the parents. Nobody knew much about autism then, so I kept trying and he kept yelling. His vision for the house reminded me of some relatives on my side of the family who wouldn’t allow anyone in the living room. Ever. That’s not a “living” room in my opinion, and nobody will ever convince me that you aren’t supposed to LIVE in your house, even on the days when nobody rings the doorbell. The Queen is not going to visit. The place I have lived half my life became a great big storage bin, where both of us were just waiting for the other to move out. Three attorneys told me I couldn’t leave because I would be destitute. I got divorced anyway.
I will never ever have enough money to stay in the house. He will never ever have the physical ability to leave. By the end of the year both of our ships should dock, and all my decisions will be mine. I don’t want to live tiny. I want to live within my means. I will live in the largest Tiny allowed by definition. I will have room for some storage, but only for things I really love. I will have a toilet seat that will never be lifted, walls with no holes, a real bed, a table to eat at, all my cast iron and Godiva boxes. I will never cover the sofa in plastic or keep my good china on the top shelf. Heck, I won’t even have good china. I might not have a sofa. Best of all, I won’t have to pay storage fees for junk in the attic or basement or garage.
All that I don’t want to live with will be left on the opposite side of the river, where you fish on your side, I’ll fish on mine, and nobody fishes in the middle.* * Lake Webster, disputed translation.
This never happened before. I don’t know if this story belongs in the reality blog or the fantasy blog. I keep them away from each other, just as I do in my life. Fairies actually don’t belong in tiny houses, and my pleasant life demands that they stay on their own side of the river. This week there was some trespassing going on behind my back, and the flooding only made it worse.
It seems my tiny house resort is built upon the playground of Beloved, the first recipient of the bubble rider fairies. I am not certain that I can park my tiny house on hallowed ground without stirring up a witchy potion that will burn a hole right through the cauldron.
Just this once, I will tell a story of both tiny houses and tiny sprites; of yesterday and tomorrow; of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure.
And then we will sort the laundry.
Once upon a time, there was an old lady, a shriveled up, used up, washed up old woman who had accomplished all that she had set out to achieve long before her life was meant to be over. On her sixtieth birthday, she had been given a gift. She got her life back. Her own life. No longer her husband’s nursemaid nor her children’s cook, she was handed the task of holding her own life to her heart. To treasure. To honor. To elevate. To share.
If she was provided with the means to accomplish this task, it was not to be found in her purse. Creativity was an absolute necessity in this endeavor. If there would be tiny income, there would have to be tiny expenses. The castle would have to go. A lifelong camper, she had long ago learned to make do. She had also learned to squeeze every drop of usefulness out of a thing, be it an apple, a coat, or a pillowcase.
More often than not, it wasn’t a thing that was on hand but a thought. Like Uncle Sir Isaac inventing calculus so that physics could be explained, the old lady invented an alternate reality, with witches and moon dancers and gnomes. She called it Figment, after Uncle Fig, and she divided the two worlds with a river that was already running through the area anyway, knowing by now that life was too short to spend any of it arguing with Mother Nature.
The old lady started getting younger, and indeed her wrinkled old self began to fill out and fit around herself better. She was down to about 55 mph in Figment when the mud from the rains started getting into her engine. When the rains had stopped and the ground had dried, an assessment found uprooted trees and fallen eaves. Over at the village of tiny homes, the swing set had tipped over and an old grave was uncovered beneath it.
“Here Lies Beloved”,
the headstone read above smaller letters:
“worlds baldest viking”.
The cleanup went on from the Equinox until the Ice Moon. The Home Depot had run out of brooms for Halloween rides, lumber for Homecoming floats, and candles for Christmas displays.
But the New Year started with great hope and fireworks. Life on both sides of the river was just about perfect again.
I have elected to ignore the history of the Tiny Estates location and accept that everyone has a past. This is where I will both play solitaire and dance under the full moon. It is in Figment and it is not in Figment. Uncle Isaac probably explained it in The Principia.
The ten and a half inches that fell on my route to Tiny Estates last week would have been in the neighborhood of ten FEET of snow in January. Neither snow nor rain could have been blamed on the first mistake with my trip, though. I left my clothes back home.
There was a perfectly reasonable explanation for this; I had to empty the van so that I could help my youngest son use it to move off campus. Having done the same in April for the middle child, I knew it was a managable change in plans. What I did not allow for was the fact that the clothes, in a large Rubbermaid bin, were in the garage instead of the main portion of the house. Most months, this Rubbermaid bin also acted as a work-table. It served absolutely no purpose in the garage at home.
I got much less work done on that front, but the design of my own tiny home moved closer to reality. As always, I learned even more with this new unit, both positive and … not so much. The Prairie Drifter was the first unit that had a true first floor bedroom, but it also had a smaller refrigerator. It had two loft bedrooms which I never used. It also had induction burners, which was a personal challenge. There were issues with the shower which ultimately left me assuming I was an idiot when no water came out at all. It was a water main break.
With less ability to work in the pattern I had been developing, I was free to entertain a friend from college and his teenaged son. After a few hours they were demanding a return visit. Even my own sons have not visited. That was nice.
This was also the week I left my keys and my bra hanging on the doorknob as always, and I went outside to comb my hair. Yep. As I jiggled down the road to get the spare key, the lawn maintenance people arrived, muttering “mucho muchas somethingorother.” Served me right. Once properly attired, including my Fitbit to measure the wasted steps, I returned to the office with yet another story for the records.
When I set Mom’s ashes into the grave last week, all that was left of her was a granite urn weighing 20.8 pounds. She had been downsizing since the mid-eighties, and she arrived at the Pearly Gates completely used up and emptyhanded. Her children will not be arguing over the holiday dishes or her teeth. There is no estate to settle.
Mom is my hero.
As the detachment of my current possessions becomes more psychologically sophisticated, I notice that everything at Home Base is in my way. Today my dinner, briefly perched upon one of many piles, marked its territory by slaloming into credit card bills, my Zack Rabbit, a ball of rubber bands and some origami instructions. Creamed spinach from Boston Market lost its appeal pretty quickly, and after trashing all but the Zack Rabbit (by Zack Giffin, skier, and tiny-houser extraordinaire) I was happy for dinner to be a spoonful of Skippy right out of the jar. In the blink of an eye, several decisions were made for me, and I believe this new tiny house I end up with will truly be just another step in a journey I have been on for a very long time…..long enough for me to have hoarded an article from a Worth magazine from September of 1995 when this journey was called Downshifting. You can’t even find a stick shift anymore these days, so the term, if not the magazine article, was discarded.
And so, without ever realizing it, I have become my mother.
The day after I returned from my August Tiny House Adventure, my mother died. She had dementia and forgot to keep breathing. So I find myself reflecting upon her life, and comparing it to mine.
Mom and Dad retired early to live on the road in an RV. They brought his mother along for the ride. When Grammy Gun(hild) died in Florida, her body was transported by train to PA for burial. She was 92.
Living on the road came to a halt when Dad also died in Florida. His cremains were strapped under the sink of the motor home – because, Mom explained, the oven was just too morbid. In a comedy of errors that could have only been orchestrated by him, it was discovered that he had been buried in a neighbor’s plot only after the burial marker was installed several months later. It happens. Up he came.
Twenty years passed. Mom spent most of that time back in Lowell on Death Row, a street with an inordinate number of funeral “pahhluhs” near the church where she had received all of her sacraments. She worked next door at the Merrimack River Valley House until becomimg a resident there. As her mental faculties faded, a series of moves ended at the facility where she died this week.
And here comes the complicated part. Her ashes are in Massachusetts. The plot is in Pennsylvania. She resided in both states as well as others; not one right after the other, but concurrently. That doubles the luncheons, the black suits, the priests, the services, and of course the death notices. It doubles the hotel expense and the gas and the meals and the tension. The one thing I know about living on the road is that the people you meet are almost entirely wonderful committed people who hold new relationships dear. In the campgrounds and state parks and rest areas, the lakes, the gas stations and the Walmart parking lots, a huge expansive community exists from sea to sea.