Saturday, October 6, 2012

We're off to see Little Yellow and I can hardly wait!

There's nothing more powerful than actually seeing something in the flesh. Seeing it up close and real. Off the web and face to face, nose up against the window glass real. This is doubly true of Tiny Houses. Cuz no matter how many times they are called "Tiny" or how many times you see photos of the "tiny kitchen" and the "tiny bathroom" and check out the "tiny porch," you don't really get it til you see it. I've seen one Tiny House and I'll say one thing about it. Damn! That thing was tiny! It was take your breath away tiny.

I stumbled on a Tiny House on a recent road trip up through the mountains of Northern California and on to Oregon, scoping out colleges for my daughter. There are several Tiny Houses up in the PNW and I had hoped to track one down through one of the blogs and beg a visit during our road trip, but I just ran out of time. I'd even tried to get a reservation to rent one, but it didn't work out. On the second day of our drive, I pulled over to rest under a large shade tree and directly across the street there was a nearly finished Tiny House under construction. I couldn't believe my luck! I mean, what are the chances I'm going to randomly pull off the road, drive through a small town looking for shade (it was 103 that day) and land myself right in front of a Tiny House?

I was floored. Well, actually, I was ecstatic. And a bit out of my head. All tiredness evaporated and with it, my usual profound reserve. I started yelling, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Look! Look! It's a TINY HOUSE!!!" I guess you could say I was animated. I started struggling with the door, trying to get out. Over my daughter's strenuous objections, I jumped out of the car, ran across the street, and may have roused the entire neighborhood in my efforts to get someone to answer the door of the bigger house next to the Tiny House. I drove about three yappy little dogs inside the house absolutely ape-blank-nuts before I realized someone was operating a drill in the Tiny House. Someone was in the Tiny House! So, that's how I had the opportunity to chat up the very generous owner/builder, Bob, for nearly 45 minutes. Learned a ton! He was actually working with a plan I was looking at and had extended the porch, just as I had been planning to do. He'd built the whole thing totally alone, with the exception of the roof. The entire time I was there, I was trying to imagine what the space was going to feel like all togged out in furniture and ready to live in. Like I said, it was empty, but it was TINY. So small. In all its coziness that day, in all its emptiness, it was as big and spacious as it was ever going to feel. 

I think it was right at that moment I started to dream about a 20 foot trailer bed, rather than the more typical 18 footer. When I get to the December Tiny House workshop in LA, one of the first things I'm going to ask is, "How long can I push it and still manage to pull it without, you know, tipping it over or something?"

I've been stalking all things Tiny House on the net for quite some time now. And all this time people have been taking pictures of their Tiny House interiors with wide angle lenses. Of course. For one thing, that's the only way you can see everything. Or anything. Wide angle lenses stretch out and grab everything and they also take a Tiny House interior and turn it into a mansion. Cognitively, I knew that. I mean I also knew Tiny Houses had a footprint about the size of your average parking spot. A parking spot isn't spacious. A parking spot isn't spacious for anyone who isn't driving a Smart Car or a Fiat 500. It certainly isn't spacious if you try and imagine tucking your whole self and all your worldies into it. I'm going to have to swear off of buying books, for one thing. This time, for good.

No wonder Tiny House builders are teasing every inch of width and length they can manage out of their trailer beds. Or deciding not to insulate interior bathroom walls in order to buy back an extra inch or two of space. Or doing without bathroom sinks and shaving in the kitchen. And then there's the constant debate about how much floor space is going to be captured inside and how much is going to form the porch. It's all falling in the same big-as-a-parking-space footprint, so every inch counts. As you can see in the photo, Tiny House builders get creative about space. Bob had added an entire storage unit to the back end of his Tiny. Essentially, that will be his tool shed. To each his own. I need to figure out where to keep my kids' old Waldorf lesson books!

Every inch counts. I got that big time standing in Bob's new place, sweating in the heat, and squinting as I tried to imagine where everything was going to end up. I tried to imagine all the stuff in my already scaled back life that simply wasn't going to make the cut. And for some odd freeing, possibly obsessive reason, I still want one. I want to build it with my own hands. And then I want to live in it. Someplace. I want the challenge of it, from beginning to end. I want a Tiny House in a Very Big Way.

I'd like to live a Big Life in a Tiny House, rather than the other way around. I'm going to keep visualizing what that might be like. I'm going to FEEL it, and work towards it, and I'm going to keep on doing that until I pull it off.

And this is why I am so excited right now. Someone else has pulled it off. And they live in Southern California, too. Remember Ella and her Little Yellow from my first post? She was one of the young women I referred to. She built her own Tiny House, right out of college. It took her a year. A full year. And it's amazing. Very lyrical. Very whimsical. Very functional. And it's hers. All hers. It gives a whole new meaning to A Room of Her Own. No matter what else happens or doesn't happen in her life, Ella has a home. No matter where she goes. No matter how well she does or doesn't do financially. She has a home. And because she won't be sinking every dime she makes into rent or a mortgage and a bunch of stuff to fill her abode with, she'll be free to spend or save her income in dozens of other ways. Like travel.

She has a home. AND she is having an Open House in Frazier Park, CA before she heads off to San Francisco with her Tiny House. And I am going. On Monday. I'm going to drive two or three hours to Frazier Park in Monday morning traffic and I'm going to walk through a Tiny House I've watched being built on her blog (I didn't catch the whole thing, but I have been able to follow her for the last couple of months--one of my very favorite Tiny House blogs, by the way). I'm going to touch it. I'm going to see how it works, all filled with furniture and life and a harp (yes, she's a harpist!). And I'm going to try that Tiny House on for size and learn how to shrink to fit.

And then I'm going to figure out how to locate and pay for a car hauler trailer. And an electric screw driver. And a framing plan. Cuz my solid wood Door of Infinite Possibilities is starting to feel lonely already.


  1. I am not going to get a tiny house.
    but how you write and what you write is so inspiring. I just hope your dream comes true.

    1. We'll see where it leads,Frieda. What interests me the most is the process. Dreams have a reason for dropping into form. What happens if I follow such a persistent, unlikely, perhaps irrational impulse to its conclusion?

  2. I like a lot of space, but you make tiny houses sound so damned intriguing that how can I help but want to take a second look. A lot of those in my age group look to mobile homes for cheap living on a fixed income (as if I will ever retire... but that's another story), but wouldn't this be preferable? Cozier? More individualized? Have less outgassing? I'd love to take a look inside one of these.

    Parking space. Really?