….Itty Bitty Living Space!

The Genie might not have been down with it, but The Tiny House Movement is a thing. A few years back it was generally considered to be for hippies and lonely cat ladies (No, it’s not that I haven’t found a man…I choose to be alone!)  That’s a whole other topic.

But I digress… Tiny Houses.

I’m visiting a friend in Austin, TX, while my son attends Film Camp at UT (University of Texas, Austin, but I’ve been told that no one here says the whole thing – it’s UT. Done.)  Since I no longer have cable at home, having an HGTV and similar channels is causing a relapse.  I have many choices, including Tiny House Big Living, Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunters, and a new one about tiny houses in paradise. If there are shoes about it, I think it counts as a movement.

There are a variety of styles, shapes, sizes of Tiny House (I hope that isn’t trademarked). The most common being the one that gets built on a trailer. It was while watching one of the mobile ones being designed and built that my husband said, “We should do that.”

“Do what?” I asked, thinking he was talking about the flooring materials.

“Live in a Tiny House,” he says, with total sincerity.

…… huh.  “You are six-foot-one, and almost two hundred pounds. I would kill you.”  I’m saying that as a woman deeply in love with her husband, even if he does look way younger than I do and people think I’m a cougar. (For the record, I’m only 2.5 years older.) I don’t want to have to leave him and the tiny house at a rest area,  while I drive away with the dogs and whatever is pulling the house and head to the border.

The younger couples on these shows are so full of love for each other and it’s really sweet – I’m not being snarky. They are usually on the same page as they start downsizing, super excited for the adventure, and it’s fun to watch even if I do utter the occasional “Oh…honey”   Why not be happy for them? They’re young and idealistic, and until tiny house living may have never passed gas in the presence of the other. (Savor that memory, kids.) They are creative, ambitious, dedicated, and who could fault them for that?

The Tiny Housers that absolutely intrigue me are the young families, or the couples just starting families. The kids’ spaces are usually in a loft right above the bedroom, and the bedroom doesn’t always have a door – not to mention that to save weight there cannot be a whole lot of insulation above the Master Bedroom. The idea of intentional living and family connection is very noble, but how do they handle when mommy and daddy want to… well…connect? I’m just voicing out loud what viewers across the country are asking… how do these folks do sexy times? There’s transparency and then there’s transparency.  I feel even more empathy for the families with older, more situationally aware kids.  For those who can handle that, and I have no idea how you do, more power to you. I’m raising a glass to your bravery, decorum, commitment, and your mad ninja skills.

Commitment is the essential ingredient. The TV Shows are about the happy fun times, the anticipation of a new life and adventures! Yay! It can’t be easy, though. I imagine there are growing pains – learning how to pick up laundry, doing laundry, putting everything away immediately, closing the bathroom door… come to think of it, these are all good habits to develop. However, it would be very challenging to do a dramatic exit after a fight with a cohabiter. *Stomp Stomp Stomp* – only three because that’s as far as you can go before hitting a wall. Then, you’d get to sit within 10 ft of each other, or less… seething.  About the most you can do is climb up in your master bedroom slot and hoist the ladder. “HA! take THAT!” answered with the hissed retort of  “I can still hear you breathing.”  Portlandia did a great job of showing the less whimsical side of sharing a small space with another person in this video about Microliving (WARNING: There is some brief Fred Armisen side cheek as he’s sitting in his “office”)  In addition to the emotional, there are some municipal growing pains as well as cities across the country figure out how to fit these homes into their codes, and keep everyone happy.

Consistent through tiny homes, trailer or otherwise, are the fiscal benefits of downsizing and in the case of the homes on wheels, the freedom. We can go ANYwhere! Wheeee! Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out as Megan Willet discovered in interviews with people who abandoned their tiny homes for a variety of reasons.  I actually saw the episode of Tiny House Nation in which a couple rebuilt after a wildfire took everything. They’d been so happy, so it was a surprise to find out they’d abandoned their new home. It’s an interesting read, so I’ve linked Willet’s story here.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dissing on Tiny Houses, or the people, or the movement.  The common thread is that these folks are motivated to live more intentional, meaningful lives and make a smaller impact on the Earth – that’s nothing to mock.  However, it’s important to be aware we are often seeing only one aspect of it and it’s about more than just being able to fit your belongings into a few laundry baskets worth of space. For example, many people are planning for a low-cost build only to realize that roaming requires a Truck that can cost as much or more than the house.  Those willing to embark, I salute you, but also do some honest soul-searching and comprehensive fiscal planning.

As for me, not now.  I need at least a year to purge my home to hotel-level cleanliness and sterility. Also, there is the aforementioned giant and a teenager.  The three of us need corners to go to… with doors. It is a much-appreciated luxury to have a napping place that doesn’t require a Rube Goldberg level of procedure, or banishing the others to the wilds. In our more recent discussions, Hubby and I decided if we went mobile, we’d each need our own home, and our own truck to pull it – then a pop up connection tunnel.  My vote is human Habitrail* tubes, with an exercise wheel.  Don’t judge me, aren’t tiny houses also about Whimsey? (Ooooo! I see a new TV show! Make It People-Sized! © and ™ etc.) 

We will start with human Habitrails, because what is more whimsical than human-sized hamster tubes!?  


*The author would like to thank the folks at http://www.habitrail.com/ for hours of entertainment – hamster and human – and for continuing to be an inspiration.

If you enjoyed what you’ve read, please feel free to dig through my sporadic post history. Please share with anyone you think would enjoy this piece or this fledgling blog. Thank you for joining me in Yelling Under Avalanches! 


About Elizabeth Bishop

Not quite wise enough yet to not yell under the avalanche.
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