Monday, July 23, 2012

small space fetish

I have an odd fixation on the notion of living in a small space in a city.  I romanticize the notion of being close to everything, having real public transit options, and being forced to seriously edit my mountains of crap.  To have everything I own be something I absolutely love.  To be absolutely ruthless about what is in my home.  To spend less time cleaning and organizing, and more time living.  To abolish clutter.

Granted, in reality city living is cramped, dirty, loud, and has all sorts of downsides.  My fantasy doesn't necessarily take those into account, hence the romanticization.  But fundamentally, I find myself desperate for change of some sort.  I want... different.  

Part of why I'm so obsessed with decluttering is that it feels like a step toward that goal.  The less stuff that has to be lugged around, the more freedom we'll have to jump when the next life change opportunity comes to call, whatever form it might take.  

All my life, whatever household I've been a part of has required a fairly sizeable house.  Not necessarily for the people, but for the stuff.  For some reason, saying 'this one won't work; it isn't big enough to hold all our stuff' seems perfectly reasonable in this country.  When did we start adjusting the houses to fit the accumulated junk, instead of simply living in a reasonable amount of space?

Though the average American family size has decreased about 30% since 1950 (from 3.8 to 2.6), average house size has increased more than 2.5-fold!  This is ridiculous!  That average 1950's family was living in under 1,000 square feet of space, but we still seem to be always upsizing and expanding.

Always needing more, more more... how about opting out and downsizing instead?  Living with less doesn't signify failure, and renting isn't a sign of having given up.  These things only indicates breaking free of the outdated American Dream.  What worked in the fifties due to some rather unique circumstances (the GI bill, a time of major economic prosperity, plenty of jobs, etc.) is a silly standard to still hold ourselves to.  In the current economic climate, maybe owning a house with a white picket fence no longer makes sense!  Make your own future.  Figure out what works for you.  The real you, not your fantasy self that throws perfect dinner parties and has 2.5 children.  Or maybe the fantasy self tours around the country playing the washboard in a zydeco band, but you're happier staying in one place, hopefully in a smaller (and cheaper) house than you can afford.  The point is to move beyond mindless plodding toward an outdated goal that may or may not be applicable to your unique circumstances.  

For me, I want out of the upsizing cycle.  I want the freedom that comes from focusing more on people and experiences rather than stuff.  To have more time, energy, and money not spent on maintaining/acquiring/storing stuff.  To prioritize the aspects of life that are actually important.  

Maybe this is a silly romantic notion, and maybe I'll never make it to my fantasy city.  Maybe I'll always live in three-bedroom houses.  But in the meantime, I'll keep 

But hey, a girl's got to dream, right?

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