We’re getting used to living small around here.
Well…we’re getting used to living small again around here.
For the first 18 years of our marriage, Dirtman, the Heirs and I lived in a small three “sort-a” bedrooms (one was actually more of a walk-in closet), one-and-a-half bath farmhouse with iffy plumbing and an ornery furnace that would just up and quit on a whim, usually in February.
The two years we spent living in the large house we built has softened our skills in the delicate dance of living so close together. That two of us are twice as large as they were back in the old farmhouse presents an even greater challenge.
On the plus size, this two bedroom rambler where we have fled following the foreclosure of the larger house is considerably more reliable than where we started out. The size, however, is comparable.
We keep running into each other, literally. Every room is on the way to somewhere, even our bedroom, which opens to both the kitchen and the small hallway leading to the living room. This means that, as I lay relaxing in bed at night reading, Heir 2 and Dirtman parade through with various foodstuffs (because, of course, I never feed these people) and in various states of dress or undress on their way to or from the kitchen, living room or Heir 2′s bedroom.
Of the smallest rooms in this small house, the kitchen is by far the smallest. As a people, we are kitchen dwellers to begin with. At any given time during the day, even when there is no cooking going on, there is always at least one person in the kitchen getting something to eat or drink or one person cleaning up after the people who have been getting something to eat or drink (strangely, never the same person).
So we are relearning the moves necessary to navigate the kitchen without a.) slamming into each other; b.) spilling whatever it is you are carrying; c.) having whatever you’ve prepared for yourself not eaten by someone else; or d.) stepping on a dog.
This last is an ongoing hazard. We’ve already worked out a schedule for having the dogs in the house, realizing from day one that all six dogs cannot be inside at the same time. They are rotated all day long between an outdoor kennel run, their own individual crates and inside the house.
Well . . .unless it’s raining out. And on days it’s raining out you simply don’t want to be here. It involves a lot of yelling and grabbing and a whole bag of pig ears and rawhide bones. And the smell of six wet dogs digesting pig ears has brought the most fervent dog lover to her knees.
Then there is the perennial issue of bathroom etiquette. I know, I know. I should probably accept my role as Jane Goodall living among the apes, but somehow, for the sake of my future daughters-in-law, I feel I must continue the battle to just once go into the bathroom without having to clean something. I’ve long since given up trying to have the entire room clean at one time because inevitably I get halfway through and someone has to use it.
A small house has its advantages, though. We have to remind each other that you don’t have to yell to call someone for dinner; you just have to stand in the kitchen by the heater and speak in a forceful tone.
For some this acoustical phenomenon brings to mind that touching scene at the end of every Waltons episode where everyone bids each other “goodnight” from their beds. Around here this manifests itself in a certain member of this household using the bathroom at night and the rest of the members all yelling, “FLUSH!” Not as sentimental, but infinitely more practical.
As I relate this, I am very aware that even this little house is probably as big or bigger than where most of the world is living. So I am more than grateful to be here and will make the necessary adjustments to my lifestyle.
We’ve even had guests over, all of whom insisted on occupying the kitchen. The last to show up was Heir 2, arriving from work just in time for dinner, of course. Finding no chair set out, he simply sat on my lap and helped himself to my pasta.
I think we’ll do just fine here.