I’ve been fascinated with tiny houses and the tiny house movement (yes, there’s actually a movement) for years. I’m drawn to the idea of living with just enough stuff, in just enough space. When my husband and I lived in New Zealand for a year (pre-children), we shared a studio flat. Just one room plus a bathroom. We used a suitcase for a coffee table. When he wanted to watch TV and I wanted to read, I just stuffed ear plugs into my years (oh, ear plugs, those wondrous modern inventions) and lay on our bed to enjoy my book.
Tiny house living sounds adventurous to me–challenging, for sure, but also adventurous. So when I discovered the book The Big Tiny: A Built-It Myself Memoir by Dee Williams, I knew I’d devour it.
The author embarks on some serious soul-searching about how she wanted to live her life when she got a scary health diagnosis, and the result is her choice to build a house the “size of an area rug,” she writes repeatedly. She also compares it to the size of a parking spot–although smaller.
Dee (I feel as though we could be friends, so I’ll call her by her first name) learns to ask for help and to attempt things she’s never done before. Ultimately, she doesn’t only down-size her life, she opens her life to more: more time to help neighbors after down-sizing her job to part time instead of full time. More community, too. She becomes the de facto caretaker for a disabled woman whose backyard becomes the landing spot for Dee’s 84-square foot home. She shares this woman’s running water in exchange for helping with medicine and errands and even adult diapers. Dee’s tiny home helped her create margin in her life: margin for more.
In her final chapter, Dee writes, “If more people understood how nice it is to have a sense of home that extends past our locked doors, past our neighbors’ padlocks, to the local food co-op and library, the sidewalks busted up by old trees–if we all held home with longer arms–we’d live in a very different place.”
I say–Here’s to holding home with longer arms. Thanks, Dee.