Coming up on about a dozen years ago, I did a major remodel of my kitchen, complete window replacement and interior repainting. What I learned was that I am actually quite comfortable in a much smaller footprint. I lived out of my back bedroom with one of the bathrooms doubling as the kitchen sink and found it actually soothing. Perhaps because I didn’t have so many choices at every turn.
I had a chance to experience this change of space again recently. After attempting to rid my deck cover of termites using a heat treatment, I opted for the more drastic, but more conventional tent and gas method. The last time I tented a house was probably 20 years ago. It ended badly, with the house robbed as soon as the gas dissipated enough not to kill the perps. I am fairly certain it was an inside job, but it wasn’t ever proven. I had insurance and since it was so long ago, my life wasn’t so tied up in hard drives, so I really didn’t lose anything that couldn’t be replaced – except for my grandfather’s antique cherry wood view camera.
This time I was not going to leave the house unguarded. So the plan was to rent a motor home and park out front. I thought I was going to be able to access my back studio and garage in order to keep working and simply sleep out there, but as it turns out, there are electrical and cable conduits running from the main house to the studio and garage, so they counseled me not to enter – even though the risk was low.
So, basically, I went car camping in front of my house for a few days.
And once again, I found that I liked the smaller space. For a while anyway. The 25′ motor home had a big bed, a shower and potty, a stove, microwave, refrigerator/freezer – and I was close enough to my house to hook up to power, water and wi-fi. So except for access to my studio, I was set.
Since my studio is in the back part of my lot, I do not spend much time in the front part of my property. I get out to walk the dog a couple times a day and back out of the driveway when I leave to run errands. But hang out in the front? Nope.
What I discovered by living on the street in front of my house was – in addition to reminding myself that I was comfortable living in small spaces – was my neighbors. They would walk by – poke their head in the open door – climb in and chat. Or we’d meet out on the sidewalk under the Mulberry tree and chat. Or someone would suggest going for a walk. It was delightful. I met and/or reconnected with a lot of neighbors. I got lucky that no one needed an ISDN session and the work that was due wasn’t urgent, so I was on vacation for a few days – no place to be. No deadlines. A change of pace as well as my space.
The tent is off. The food unpacked. And once again I have room to spread out. And choices to make at every turn. The pace is back to normal – busy busy. I would hope that I learned something from this little front yard camping experience, but now that I am back in my office, the front yard is again abandoned. People pass by with their kids and dogs and friends – and I am oblivious. But now more mindful of the parade I am missing.