On My Tiny House

I want to live in a tiny house.

It’s all very clear to me. Our house would be maybe 400 square feet big — a functioning kitchen, a pint-size bathroom with a composting commode and shower constructed of a watering can and old barrel, a living room/study/family room/entryway/mudroom/utility closet combo, and a set of authentic-looking canning jars placed just-so on the window ledge with lids open enough to capture all of our dreams. Life would be rambling from one vista to the next, our little love nest in tow. Home anywhere and everywhere.

This is all a vicious lie.

Sort of.

I watch HGTV in amazement as couple after couple (often with a brood of children and litter of animals) “tour” these tiny homes, squealing with delight at the abundant kitchen cabinetry doubling as sock drawers and dryer vents. As these lovers of less twirl (they can’t really walk) in their potential abode, they coo over the loft beds and appreciate the exercise they’ll get climbing the ladder into them every night. Admittedly, the necessary chamber pots can be decorative. I marvel at their excitement as they realize that they can be in four rooms at once, that privacy has been totally destroyed, and that every waking moment can now be shared, intimately, with those they love.

My sarcasm hides the truth: I’m a little envious. I’m envious that these tiny home buyers appear to have decoupled themselves successfully from the materialism pervasive in American life. I’m challenged that these tiny home buyers seem to be motivated by a different (higher?) set of priorities. And I’m given pause by their capacity to buck the system, to challenge that “bigger is better,” to give action to their ideals. Few admit to being materialistic, but even fewer actually live a life oriented away from “stuff.”

I’m sure not every tiny house buyer is a paragon of virtue. A certain slice of these buyers just likes the novelty, no doubt, and, within a year or two, super-sizes up to a McMansion. Nevertheless, my visceral reaction to their housing choice is certainly a testament to the power of the cultural message of buying bigger, buying better. Sure, it’s fair to find such miniature abodes simply not practical for most, but, as a challenge to our assumptions of what we need and what is important in life, tiny houses sure do loom large.

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