Read the full post on No Sidebar
“Wow, you must be really poor. You live in a tiny house.” And in case I didn’t hear his 7-year-old voice as he was walking through the front door and into our house to play with my boys, he said it again, “wow! You guys must be really really poor.”
I left the Corporate World two years ago. I spent 20 years at a comfortable salary—a salary that paid for more than just the basics. I had the cash for the down payment on our 1300 square foot house we bought 12 years ago. I put the maximum into retirement, started saving for our boys’ college education and bought vehicles with cash.
My salary paid for vacations, my husband Randy’s bicycle habit and over $30K in health care that was not covered because we choose to go alternative routes when conventional medicine wasn’t working. Randy's take-home covered all the extras, like weekend trips to Mexico and impromptu toys at Target to serve as bribes for my boys’ good behavior while I shopped.
I had an internship in Ecuador out of college. Back stateside I entered the Advertising Industry at barely 25 years old. I was living in Grosse Pointe, an old-money community of 1920’s mansions on the border of Detroit. I scored a top floor apartment amongst majestic homes that made me swoon.
During my days in Detroit, I wasn’t a minimalist. Or knowledgeable about simple living. If I didn’t feel like doing laundry I made a quick trip to Ann Taylor or Gap. I loved the dopamine rush of a new shirt. Of new shoes. And I believed in the continual pursuit of more and more.
My shopping habits extended beyond clothing to art. Growing up my sisters and I loved watching our mom generously support not just one, but many local artists in their crafts at the summer art fairs. My childhood home was small compared to today’s standards, but the walls were covered with a wealth of art and creativity.
Randy and I moved to Colorado in our early 30’s and immediately bought a starter house. I didn’t care for the house or its neighborhood. In fact, I looked at the house with disdain and saw us selling it in a few years, making a profit and then buying our “real” house. One that matched the identity I had created for myself. One similar to the Grosse Pointe mansions.
When we moved in together we were faced by all of my precious possessions—tangible memories to me, clutter to Randy. For myself, these things were proof that I was living an adventurous life. Randy saw them as an clutter. Tchotchke. Even if paid hundreds or thousands for it. So I hung up a few paintings and put the rest of my treasures into boxes. I told myself that when I got my enormous dream house I would show off ALL of my beautiful finds.
Over the course of the next decade, our house became much smaller as it was filled with the births of our two boys and the accompanying toys of toddlerhood. At times my husband pointed out a house or two on the market that looked closer to my vision. But we never made the leap.
Did my house grow on me slowly over time? Did I decide that it was good enough and to just settle? No.
After 11 years of a lukewarm relationship, I fell head-over-heels in love with my house last Fall.