Fact and Fancy collide as two blogs travel side by side.
The builder and I are amused to note that our “baby” will be delivered on Mothers Day.
All of the adventures from Full Haus to Empty Nest have been amusing. I may have gotten here kicking and screaming, but whether looking forward or backward or right where I now sit, there has never been a dull moment. Like the weeds that appear in the lawn without intentional sowing, each element of the journey has surprised and altered and enhanced the process. This is growth; and never is it more apparent than the moment before the bloom opens to the sun.
Beginning with the summer of 2016, when I traveled to the New Hampshire mountains in search of an affordable life, sorting through web sites and television shows and builders’ magazines and zoning laws, agonizing over the clutter which sometimes left me drowning, I can finally see the flower that is my life. The seed was planted when my youngest child was considering a college on the west coast. My second and third sons choose not to drive, and I had not realized that it would affect my position as a mother to step entirely out of the role as Soccer Mom (not that any of my Three Wise Men is the least bit athletic. Their father played street hockey and the boys played Nintendo. I was a left fullback).
My first thought was that my child would need someone to transport him to his classes, which made no sense to my usual self, but Empty Nesting is a complex thing. In order to drive him around, I would need to live in Redmond, Washington near Digi-Pen. The other two had followed my lead and gone to Drexel, which was right on the R5 SEPTA Regional Rail line. As I contemplated what I’d have to bring with me to set up a homestead so far from the family “estate”, we discovered that my son didn’t even have the credentials to get on an airplane to visit the campus. Of course I knew better than to actually uproot my own life and follow my baby to college, and if truth be told, I had spent a lot of my mothering time teaching them to succeed on their own, so this entire brief plan to live on the west coast in a tiny house in order to get my child to class belongs in that same place where I keep dreaming that I forgot to potty train him.
On his own, he withdrew his acceptance to Digi-Pen and followed his brothers to Drexel…..which by no means suggests that any of them visit their mother regularly. Perhaps they are wise enough to know I won’t do their laundry. Once the seed was planted however, it found its way to the ground’s surface. Despite all logic and realism, that plant would not die. Nor could it grow in the soil of an impossible marriage. All living things need food, and my husband was a really bad farmer. Over time, the idea of living on my own became my only nourishment, so I started packing to get off the farm.
I have been living in a hoarded house. I don’t know if I am a hoarder, but I know the lifestyle paralyzed me. I thought that if I ever got beyond the clutter, I would find the things I once loved and wanted in my daily life.
Let us say the weeding never ends.
In April I finally visited my tiny house. At the time, the interior was a skeleton. We say “shell”. My imagination and creativity immediately filled the space with ideas.
And then I came back to the big house.
My Stuff is going to outlive me, that’s all there is to it. Right this minute the FUL HAUS Odyssey is packed with donations. I tried to drop them off on Good Friday but they told me they were closed. Stood there like soldiers and refused to take the donation because they were going to close in five minutes. I can never seem to get beyond the Gatekeeper… The TNY HAUS Pilot is packed with things that are going to the tiny house.
I have more kitchen gadgets and stationery than I’ll ever need, and if my son hadn’t stared me down all weekend I’d still be deciding what to do with 42 key rings. I haven’t come across the keys yet.
But here’s a startling discovery: it’s kind of fun to see these things I thought I really needed, now that I don’t need them afterall. I even found a tenth gray hoodie after donating eight of them in the last couple of years. This one was in such bad shape it went right in the trash can.
For better or worse, my move to the tiny house is possible because I’m leaving so much in the exact place it’s been sitting for 20 years or more. Maybe you can’t take it with you, but maybe you won’t want to.
I am poised to step into Old Mother Hubbard’s shoe after her kids have moved out.
There are few times in life when you can hold all options open, and this is happening right now. I owe nothing to anybody. All my choices are mine. I still own my stuff and I also own my tiny house. My kids still love me and I don’t need to make their lunches. There’s gas in the car and cream in the fridge and a pair of shoes on my feet. I can wear my bra or toss it on the kitchen table if I want. (I won’t) I can admire Marie Kondo or make fun of her. I can sing off key. I can check the mailbox three times a day. I can skip recycling. Anything is possible. Well, except pregnancy.
And it all started ten years ago today, when I finally became a non-smoker after 41 years. Freedom isn’t free, but the rewards are immeasurable.
Ten years, 12 hours, 17 minutes and 53 seconds. 146100 cigarettes not smoked, saving $41,784.73. Life saved: 1 year, 20 weeks, 3 days, 7 hours, 0 minutes.
I never wanted to be in charge. It’s just that everyone else was doing it wrong.
I needed to be less than two hours from the ocean and the mountains and any potential grandchildren. I needed a table and a big refrigerator and a ground floor bed. I needed to keep my cast iron and my fairy costumes and my sewing machine. I needed 400 square feet that could go wherever I ended up, and I needed it soon.
While I love just about everything about the tiny house movement, I’m not too keen on the term. “Micro home” was probably my favorite, but that term is now reserved for something under 200 square feet, often way less. I couldn’t get as much space as I wanted in the location I found, so most of the month of February was spent on Facebook Messenger with the builder who is 400 miles away. There was a little bit of fantasy sprinkled on this choice, because sometimes it is hard to find the line between reality and the imaginary world I call Figment. [see http://www.fairy-fizz.com] This builder and I have known each other since he was born, and our mothers played with dolls together. I try hard on occasion to avoid thinking of us as Kissing Cousins, but I have seen his work and have attempted to enchant him into the tiny house building world for a couple of years now.
He is finding ways to build exactly what I want. Instead of a loft I have a privacy deck for moondancing once every 29.5 days. It is not a pretty sight, the dancing. It’s a DeckHaus. For a moondancer. Who lives alone and wears fairy costumes and cooks with cast iron for self defense. Who grows teaberry for extracts nobody’s brave enough to swallow. Who has triangular fixtures to save space for looking in the mirror and reaching under that dreaded corner cabinet. Who needs neighbors to keep an eye on her so the panic attacks don’t get out of hand. Who might wear the same t-shirt three days in a row if no food spills on it. Who ventures back “home” to visit her doctors and her Things. Who can do anything she wants to do at any time of day or night. Who can gaze at the stars and be glad to be grounded.
All this. In 255 square feet on three axles.
Rumspringa is an Amish tradition in which the community rules are relaxed and Amish teenagers are allowed to experience worldly activities. It is believed that by doing so the youths will be able to “find themselves.” (from http://www.welcome-to-lancaster-county.com)
Rumspringa is also the model that Liberation Tiny Homes calls, “Our most affordable home, with simple choices and a design that works for everyone.” It is not their fault that I whacked my left butt cheek going down their stairs. I had no business sleeping in the loft when there was a queen-sized sleeper sofa right underneath it. I am a little old lady who sheds dental floss throughout every tiny house I have ever visit. Rumspringa was tiny house number nine; not to be confused with Love Potion Number Nine, which belongs in the other blog (www.fairy-fizz.com).
After practicing the tiny lifestyle for most of the year, I came within a week of selecting a custom build from Liberation, when the Fairies From Figment arranged for a new alternative. My builder will be a lifelong friend, a Younger Man and teacher who has visited my dreams off and on since high school. No worries – his wife knows.
I left Lancaster County with a signed contract for a spot at Tiny Estates. I returned with a new perspective regarding my Stuff in the house. If I ever get to the bottom of the piles to reveal my treasures, I will likely discover that they have been taken over by the mice and termites. An ex-husband makes a very poor landlord.
This doesn’t mean the hoarder gene has been removed from my DNA. I was born with it and will be buried with it. What’s different in the last couple of years is the attachment to personal possessions that I will never use. I will never be a minimalist, but a hoarder lives in very little space when you consider how much of a room is filled with possessions. The “living” actually occurs in the center of a pile. Mentally, these possessions are the adult children that won’t leave the nest on their own, forcing the mother to kick her own children to the curb….
If you can follow the story in this little picture book, I can get a degree in psychology. Here’s where the journey started:
No, actually. It started before the vernal equinox in Valley Forge, honoring the nomadic life of my father during his retirement with Mom. It started when I visited Mom and Dad’s motor home at the curb.
Actually, it was even before that, when we had a VW Camper while we were growing up.
You get the idea. Living on wheels is in my blood. That being said, I spent over thirty years raising three boys in my forever-nest, which my mother-in-law called “a fine starter home” when it was built. I thought it was huge.
Eventually it got too small to share with my now former husband. Financial considerations forced me to reconsider the itinerant life, which I had attempted in New Hampshire and it was fun. My first blog posts are about that. This newer journey has been more serious – and funny – than the earlier one.
The first and last tiny experiences for the year were hotel rooms with a micro-fridge. Somehow the freezer space in April was much larger than the one in December… Neither experience was anything to write home about. There were three additional hotel stays in 2018, all with microwaves and refrigerators. Again, nothing to write home about. There were a few options I avoided: The Yurt, The Cottage, The LEGO, a Relaxed Shack and Cinderella’s Coach. The yurt was so small that I ate it.
There were a total of eight Tiny Estate THOWs I stayed in, each for seven nights. In order, they are:
The Journey (April), The Eagle (May), The Low Country (June), The Chairman (July), The Vision (August), The Prairie Drifter (September), The Capital (October) and The Moonlight (November). Each had features I knew belonged in my own design, and at least one feature that I could not live with. On the whole, I learned that the lifestyle would work for me, provided I tweaked it a little in some places and a lot in others. One month I forgot to pack my clothes. Another month I had no patience for the induction burners. Once I couldn’t get water to run in the shower. Another time I couldn’t get to the loft. One place had trouble getting internet. Another month there was too much duck poop. But it was never so bad as the first visit, when it was just me and Cody and 14 acres of cold bright moon glow and no shades in the windows.
But that’s a story for the other blog, fairy-fizz.com