When I grow up, I want a house on land. I would prefer there are trees to climb, to build treehouses, to pick lemons or apples from to make pies. There should also be a small pond, where baby duckies are born and raised. There will be a deck, with lights strung pole to pole, branch to branch. Wine glasses, children running, grilling, tears then laughter, rain then sunshine, quiet nights, big parties, small flags decorating for July 4th, doggies barking, lemonade.
I have built this house that is attached to this yard and deck (….in my head). I can tell you the color of the laundry room and how there’s a shelf where shoes go to prevent tracking in the house, and there’s jars on the kitchen counter. Is this crazy? No.
Remember, I currently live alone in a 600-square foot space. The man (monster) above me puts the force of the heavens into every footstep. The couple next to me enjoys a nightly smoke (and I don’t believe it’s a pack of Camels if you get my drift). I work 8 to 9 hours a day, I go to yoga and I watch ABC Family/USA network shows that I DVR’d (this is not about my tacky television preferences). Mondays are generally grocery shopping night. On Tuesdays, my boyfriend comes over for dinner. Some Wednesdays, I’ll go to Homegoods or Nordstrom. I leave the weekend open, but if you’re following my pattern here you’ll know I’m not jetting off to exotic destinations or performing improv.
So other than telling you my dreams and my reality, alternately, what am I trying to say? That I am okay with living small right now.
First, because it’s fun to dream. Who knows what my life will look like in six months or six years, but I can pretend that it includes my dream home/husband/children/career/friends/wine that is more than $9 a bottle. Creating scenarios in your head and playing out your future is fun. Not only that, it’s good for you — and personally, helps maintain my imagination. It’s a space that doesn’t include a computer screen, a goal list or a DVR. Imagining things that I long for allows me to paint on a wide canvas. And at any rate, your hopes can’t come true if you don’t continue to hope for them.
Second, because working full-time is exhausting. Facebook does this thing where you imagine every friend you had in college and high school now live CrAzY FuN LiVeS where they are all still BeStIeZ and take shots and group text. Get real. You’re seeing 25 pictures from the one night they all happened to see each other. Friend envy is real, and if you click through album after album longing for your college days or even to have a bout of mid-2o’s days with your college friends, you won’t be able to appreciate what you’ve got going on currently. I have always been more of a wine-bottle-with-one-friend night than a one-million-shots-with-one-million-people night anyway. Additionally, clicking through those pictures will make you realize you need to go shopping because everyone else is trendy and cute but you. This is also a lie.
Finally, because living small means you’re leaving room for the rest of your life to grow. It’s taken me all of 23 years to figure out that I don’t get to figure everything out – for me or for anyone. I’ve spent a lot of time planning, yearning, complaining, comparing. In fact from about 2009-2011, all I did was long for more or else. Really, from like 1994-2011. RIP, silly life where I tried to control or change anything. Setbacks aside, living small means living presently and doing so with a grin on my face. It means finding a way to understand, to appreciate and to hold the moment in your hand and admire it. My apartment is not my ideal reality, but it’s cute. It’s convenient. It’s just enough space that cleaning only takes an hour but my dog can run in circles. The boy I love is moving hundreds of miles away and that’s not ideal either, but he’s going to do something that he feels called to do and that’s admirable. Some days, my job is tedious. It’s hard or challenging – but it’s work. It’s growth and opportunity. You live small so you find joy within those things that aren’t really what you wished for. You live slow so you find what you love inside what you may resist at first.
Small or slow doesn’t necessarily mean the physical aspects of my life. Small means humble, quiet, thoughtful. Slow means with gratitude and awareness. There are two sides to all of these coins.
Speaking of coins – I need to learn how to manage my finances to a place of “small” or “slow.” That would take a whole new post, though…Help me, I’m poor.