I’m sitting at my desk with a sprawl of paper threatening to eat my organic, goat cheese pizza. I just crunched numbers over my late night feast. I can do it. My bank statement is sitting on top of my Tumbleweed plans. Across the table, my research list scribbles every trip to the hardware store and every name of my construction recruits. I know what I need to build my tiny house. I know what it’ll cost. With my new bank statement, I know I have the money. Here’s the tripper; I also have the land.
What’s the Problem?
It’s this last point that’s caused the late night pizza binge. My free home site lies in the corner of my parent’s yard. My tiny home will sit on a permanent foundation and forever keep me living with Mom and Dad, while I chase the ghosts of my childhood.
Even though my relationship with my family doesn’t require a tunicate, there’s something deep seated in me that calls for autonomy and needs physical separation from my family. I’ve grown up in a country that expects independence, and lays out this freedom along a linear flow of events: Education, career, house, spouse, kids, retirement. Although a degree of variation is acceptable, cross too far off the path and you become a social eyebrow raiser. “Live in Mom’s backyard,” lies in the realm of eyebrow raising.
I know I can easily point to the downfalls of this freedom lineup. It’s impossible to ignore the high cost of education, the sick-laden workaholic and the mortgage meltdown. These are the questions I ask as I chase simplicity: Is this freedom? What happened to my independence in this pile of bills?
Balancing “We” and “I”
For me to accept land from my family, and dig my foundation in their space, I feel like I’m crossing a boarder that values, “we,” over, “I.” It would be a sharing of resources, with an acceptance of work and care in return. No, my parents would not breath their expectations through my windows. But I would need to be around to care for their animals when they go out of town, tend to the garden, and resolve myself to share my comings are goings. Then there’s the larger question of care as they grow old. It would only make sense to become their caretaker when it’s time. I would be their closest neighbor.
Working this family dynamic is a process for every person. But it becomes more alive and tangible when you live in close quarters and rely on their grace to build your tiny dream.
Asking the Question
Without question, planting my tiny home next to my parents would afford financial freedom. Sharing resources would lessen our impact on the environment as a family. So the question remains. Can I hack it? Can I leave the social norm. Sure, I see tiny homes on the path to culture coolness. Living in Mom’s backyard isn’t quite there. When I except that cool is not my destiny, can I hold on for the lifetime ride of these new family ties?
Figuring Thing Out. Slowly
This is why, fellow tiny house-ers, I resorted to my organic pizza binge. From here, I’ll continue to mill over my questions. I’ll practice clear speaking and deep listening with my family. I’ll give myself the room to make a decision, knowing there is not only one way to live freely and walk lightly on this earth. Of course, I’ll leave the oven on, pizza ready.
Amber is a writer and outdoor educator. She lives small in Los Angeles with her mutt, Kona.