By Sue Murphy
All of my children and grandchildren convened at my house over the holidays, and it was glorious. We laughed, we played, we ate copious amounts of foods you can only justify on special occasions. There were nine of us total, and everyone had a bed to sleep in and a chair at the table. The house was just the right size.
When I am there by myself, however, my house seems too big. There are rooms I only visit weekly to vacuum and dust.
A lot of people in my situation choose to downsize, move to a house that is more one-person appropriate. It just makes sense. Nine tenths of the time, I don’t need all those rooms. I am not a big person, 5’1” on a good day with a comparable wingspan. My bodily space needs are minimal, but emotionally, my personal space requirements extend beyond my person. Sure, it would be financially and ecologically prudent for me to drive a smart car, but I feel more secure with a little more metal around me. Housewise, same thing: I like to come in somewhere between boxed-in and rattling around, and the square footage depends on how many people are occupying the same space.
I need room to breathe and the air contained therein. Out in public, I am always subconsciously calculating square feet of breathing space per body in attendance. Crowds make me nervous. As a short person, I invariably end up wedged between walls of tall and my only breathing recourse is to crane my neck upward. You can’t do that forever. Caves? Can’t do them at all. Not only do they contain a finite amount of space but there are no windows. The air you have right now, my friend, is all you’re going to get. On airplanes, I always try to wrangle an aisle seat because, breathingwise, I have access to the common area.
In my perfect world, common areas would expand or contract depending on the number of people they were hosting. What I need long term, I suppose, is a tiny house with collapsible sections that could be pushed out to accommodate my family when they come to visit. For a while there, I watched the tiny house TV shows like it was my job. It was addictive for a chronic organizer like me to see how the builders utilized every miniscule nook and cranny for storage. Cup hooks on the unused portion of the ceiling? Brilliant. I applauded the fold-down dining table, marveled at the sink that transformed into a cutting board, but when it came to the sleeping loft, I hit a wall, or more accurately, I was afraid of hitting the wall. Sure, you could put in a sub-rafters window, but the idea of waking up with the ceiling six inches from my face makes me hyperventilate just to think about.
None of this makes sense, of course, but I am at the age now when I do not insist that I act sensibly all the time. In a few years, I can comfortably assume the role of full-fledged crazy old woman, but you have to train for that. You can’t just jump into crazy from a standing start, not if you want to be good at it. No, you have to give yourself a few eccentricities along the way. Irrational claustrophobia seems like a good place to start.
So, a tiny house with big breathing possibilities. I’ll work on that, but now I have to go. I’m running out of space. (Breathe, breathe.)