I’m sitting in a beautiful kitchen in Berkeley that’s the size of the interior of the boat where I live. It has picture windows showing trees lashed by the wind, a small gas stove with blue, flickering flames, and a six burner stove. This kitchen is a dream come true, with a dishwasher and a deep sink, a place where I can store food in a fridge and cook large meals. I’m house-sitting, and every day, I marvel at being in this huge place. Ever since downsizing and living in tiny square footage, every house seems impossibly huge, a place to get lost, a place to store stuff, distribute stuff through various rooms, lose stuff.
Right now, it seems like my stuff is everywhere. There’s some on the counter, on the dining room table, on the chair by the front door, on the couch, in the bedroom. I can’t keep track of everything, and feel like my life is exploding at the seams. In the sailboat, this can’t happen. My stuff is stored neatly in my blue backpack, then the pack and my purse shoved on a shelf. Most of my clothes are in suitcases in the back of my car, in the storage unit, or in one drawer on the boat. Here, at this house, it seems like my stuff just wants to escape, to let loose, to party in every room. And I feel myself going the slightest bit crazy, yearning for the small space of the sailboat, how I can cook and still see Tom 15 feet away, reading in the bedroom. I miss the way the wind rocks the boat, howls through the masts, plays with the stays.
My perception toward living space has changed so dramatically in the 9 months I’ve been on the boat. I don’t know if I could go back to large house living, as I’m so accustomed to a small space, and the intimacy and closeness it provides. If I ever do get back on land, I’d gravitate toward a tiny home and a large plot of land, rather than a large home in a tiny lot. It’s interesting to me that we’ve gravitated toward larger homes as a country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American home is now 2,600 square feet. That’s even more than during the housing bubble. And far more than it was during the 1950s, when the average American home size was 983 square feet.
My appreciation toward normal amenities has also exploded during this sailboat venture. When I stay in this big Berkeley house made of redwood, I feel like I’m in a luxury resort, with multiple bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, and even a wonderful outdoor hot tub with incredible views. So many rooms! So many places to be! I feel spoiled, thankful, and amazed that I am getting PAID to be here, to watch two amazing dogs and three egg-laying hens. I feel lucky. And it amazes me that many people live in homes like this, every day.
But, I’ll be happy to get back into my movable tiny home. To cook dinners on my two burner propane stove while the storm winds push it around in its slip. Where my stuff stays where I tell it to, in one or two manageable spots.