• I recently read a very funny piece about tiny houses in which the author speculated that the ever-so-trendy residents of these miniaturized abodes might not be quite as content with their miniaturized lives as they like to suggest.
While the whole piece is a riot, this particular passage jumped out at me:
I know your house isn’t that clean all of the time. In your pictures, it looks like you only own a tiny sofa, several throw blankets & pillow, one cooking pan, one antique book and one framed photo of you laughing in front of your tiny house.
My own perspective on tiny houses is shaped by the fact that I spent the better part of a decade living in a very small Upper West Side apartment—small enough that I had to sleep in a loft—whose walls were covered with fine-art prints. Being a just-so kind of person, I fussed endlessly over the floor plan and furnishings, and at length I succeeded in turning my little home into a Machine for Living, one in which absolutely everything had its place. I kept my oversized art books in the fake fireplace.
I loved my little mousehole (as I called it) immoderately, but it posed a problem, which was that because it was so full of art, I felt guilty whenever things got messy. It was as though Milton Avery and Helen Frankenthaler were somehow judging me for not hanging March at a Table and Grey Fireworks in an immaculately orderly space. Yes, I knew I was being silly, but think about it: would you leave your dirty underwear on the floor of an art gallery?
The predictable consequence of my anxiety was that I became even more neat and tidy than before, enough so that when I was stricken ten years ago with congestive heart failure, I went so far as to straighten up the apartment before calling 911. That’s obsessive.
It was then that I met the woman who became Mrs. T, and my Machine for Living broke down. Aside from the fact that the mousehole was simply too small to hold two normal people and their stuff, one person’s commonsense discipline is another person’s lunatic fussiness. It soon became clear that I either had to (A) find a larger apartment and (B) tolerate a reasonable amount of random untidiness therein, or bid farewell to the love of my life.
Rarely has so important a choice been so easy to make. We’ve been together ever since, and I pick up after her, at least when we’re in New York. In Connecticut, though, all bets are off. That which falls on the floor stays on the floor—and you know what? It hasn’t killed me. Yet.