Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's Bigger on the Inside

I found this picture on nourish the planet dot com.
I don't know if they own the copyright, but if anyone is inclined
to file a lawsuit, I invite you to go after them first.
As this blog post indicates, the most you'd ever collect from me is
a basement full of crap no one claims or indeed seems to remember
purchasing, owning, wearing, asking Santa for, or borrowing from their sister
ten years ago with the solemn promise to give it right back.

Lately, when things start getting the better of me, I turn on my phone and begin scrolling through pictures of tiny houses.

I honestly can't tell you why this has become my therapy of choice. For some reason, looking at photographs of 200 square foot living spaces calms my nerves, and, as likely as not, keeps me from strangling whoever happens to be in the room at the time.

The two are not unrelated, of course. The one inspiring the strangling is likely to be the one inspiring the need for a tiny house hit, a visual 'fix' that brings my blood pressure back to normal.

There is something fascinating to me about a little house that can still hold everything I might need. I don't really remember ever having that kind of fit. Does anyone?

When we first were married the world was somehow both cozy and immense. While full of potential and prospects and giant things like bills and car repairs and student loans, it was also complete and uncomplicated when we finally closed the curtains and were left with just us.

Over the years, as we added to the largeness of our lives, the smallness counterbalance continued. With each new child, our world became smaller, even as our need for a larger home and higher salary increased. Who could have imagined we'd actually forget to watch Thirty-Something because our baby was giggling at the dog, and we were absolutely, comprehensively enthralled? But there was so little time, what with working extra hours and teaching music lessons to pay for that larger home and provide for that giggly baby. 

When we grew up a bit more, and took on more responsibilities and voluntary obligations, the world was bigger as the calendar filled up, and smaller as things like PTA talent shows consumed absurd amounts of energy and earnestness.

Remember that? Remember being on the band fund raising committee and plowing through the month with the intensity of the Joint Chiefs attempting to thwart global annihilation? Remember when little things like hand made Halloween costumes were just huge? Wasn't that weird?

I realize that there are many of you who are saying, "Yes, DeNae. I remember. You're talking about last week."

But any more, I find that a lot of my reader-friends are on the same lap around the block as I, whose nests are emptying, then filling again as their fledglings find someone to add to the flock.

And so the world gets bigger again.

We have a daughter talking marriage, a son whose wife is expecting our first grandchild, another daughter who graduates from college in a week and will be returning home for a while. Our youngest surprised us with the announcement that he had reversed his original position of "not interested" and is now planning on serving a religious mission in the fall. The daughter with wedding bells clanging in her head did the same thing, only in reverse.

The basement is filled with bins and dressers and boxes of things that are either completely useless or more precious than Gollum's ring, but no one is around to make the call. And when the kids are at home, it usually involves dropping off something new. Last year's textbooks, the snowboard that mostly served to remind the owner that she spent her formative years in the Caribbean, a grocery bag full of knit caps that kept the boy's head warm last year but, inexplicably, ceased to do so when the fashion winds changed -- these all find a safe home downstairs, filed and not-quite-forgotten, curated by the apparent hoarders-in-training whose names are on the deed. So the house remains bottom-heavy, often lacking lightness and loft, true, but also solidly, firmly, there.

Bigger, smaller, bigger, then very small. Stretch, squeeze, twist, and twist again, add some color, add some flavor, roll it all out and chop it into bits. Midlife is life on a taffy pull.

So I sneak peeks at pictures of tiny houses, wondering what it would be like to live in a little, me-sized space. Not for long. Just until I can catch my breath and reconnect with this bendy, Gumby, Alice in Wonderland life we've built for ourselves.

'Drink me,' it says. 'Add a baby. Make room for an in-law. Retire, take a nap, then start a new career.'

And stay flexible. Like Alice, you can't really know in what direction you'll be growing.  



Kristi said...

I'm in the same stage as you are. The changes are dizzying, like the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups at Disneyland. And even though they leave my head spinning, I do enjoy the ride!

Anya Horman said...

I'm at the beginning of the spectrum with the expanding family and shrinking house, but you're absolutely right, the push and pull of small and big never end no matter what stage we are in. I'm always trying to work on buckling up and learning to be more flexible :)

Becca said...

This is a perfect group of thoughts and images (especially the Bottom-Heavy house -- it fits me in every way). You have a gift of being funny and poignant (nailed it, spell-check) and tender all at the same time. That is one of the reasons I love you.

Denise said...


Aunt Snow said...

We're at the "contraction" stage; we haven't managed to downsize yet, but we are certainly no longer upsizing. Like you, I am acutely aware of the unused mass of "things" in the basement and in our cupboards and closets.

- Glennis from writing class

Qait said...

I like this post.

If you live near an IKEA, you should check out there itty bitty living spaces. I find that soothing as well as exciting, looking around a small room and realizing it has all the essentials.

I know I need the space of a big house--emotionally, physically, etc.--but I would love to have a tiny little vacation house that has just the barest necessities.