I just read another essay on life in a tiny house, and like all the other essays on the subject, the author makes it seem like a wonderful adventure where less is more and a tiny house gives people have the freedom to live where they want and go anywhere. They want.
Tiny life is only romantic when you can choose it, and I didn’t have that choice. I have lived in small houses and I never want to again.
The first small house I lived in was a small trailer in a trailer park with my father, mother and two brothers. Then, as a student, I lived in a six foot by eight foot aluminum garden shed in someone’s backyard in San Francisco. Either way, where I lived and how I lived were determined by necessity and not by a romantic notion that the world would be better off if I did not waste its resources.
My family lived in the small trailer from the age of 6 until I was 10. My dad tried to convince us that we were the elite of the trailer park because our trailer was 22 feet long and seven feet wide. And since the “small” trailers were those 20 feet or less in length, we lived in a larger trailer.
There was a small room for my parents. My brothers slept in bunk beds in the middle of the trailer and I in a fold out bed above the kitchen / dining / living room. Of course, I was always the last to go to bed because when my bed was out there was no room for anyone to sit in our kitchen / dining / living room.
There was no bathroom. Instead, there was a large public bath conveniently placed at the end of the track for our use and for the use of any others whose caravan did not contain a bathroom.
It was like camping in a national park, and walking the road to the toilet is what you do when camping. Except we weren’t camping. Walking down the street to use the bathroom was just an arrangement of normal everyday life and not worth commenting or complaining about. It was just like that.
So what was it like living in a small trailer? It wasn’t romantic or weird or an unusual ordeal. It was right. It was the normal, ordinary way of life. After all, everyone I knew also lived in the trailer park. And if there were a lot of trailers larger than ours, there were also smaller trailers. And although I knew people lived in real houses, we weren’t poor like others I read who had nowhere to live. I also lived in a house – mine was just smaller and had wheels and was sometimes moved from place to place.
One week I would be in Yosemite to feed the deer and the next thing I knew was in Albuquerque at another new Catholic school, and before I could really get to know New Mexico we moved to California. from South.
We were not homeless and did not have to sleep in our car or on the street. And when we moved, the trailer was hitched to the back of the car and we took our house with us.
Although they were never ubiquitous, it seemed like there was a trailer park everywhere we went. Today, the trailer park has often been replaced by mobile home parks, and the little houses I knew have been replaced by Mac mansions on wheels.
My wife’s parents lived in a mobile home park and would be furious if their park was called a trailer park. It was not like a trailer park that I had known before. The mobile homes in their park were supposed to have wheels, but none of them did and none of them could be moved from their permanent locations without a lot of expense and without the help of professional movers. Also, the “mobile homes” in their park were not 154 square feet like the one I lived in, but rather 1,540 square feet or more. And more importantly, none of the people living in these parks with their pristine landscaped gardens have ever been referred to as a ‘trailer trash’.
The “trailer bins” were people like me and my family who lived in trailers, who lived in tiny houses because that’s all we could afford.
The “trailer bins” were people like me and my family who lived in trailers, who lived in small houses because that’s all we could afford. The “trailer bins” were often people who were just a step away from living on the streets and struggling every day to make ends meet and survive. “Trailer trash” was the label my family and friends received because of our little homes, even though we did our best to live our lives with dignity, hope and love. The trailer bin was an epithet that came from the outside world, and even as a child I knew I was not a trailer bin.
How could I be a garbage can when my father drove a Cadillac? How could I be a trash can when I lived in a house and had new clothes every Christmas and every birthday?
How could I be a garbage can when I ain’t really made it live in the trailer. I only slept there. I experienced and explored the world outside the trailer, a world with logs, pirates, and railroad tracks that, in my mind, would take me to Xanadu and Timbuktu. Likewise, I have lived in the jungles of Africa and climbed the tallest mountains in the world and discovered and explored ancient and lost civilizations.
And when we got together in Pasadena, next to the trailer park was Bessie Park and the Bessie Park Boy’s Club with a big library where I could check out as many books as I wanted when I wanted. And the Bessie Park Boy’s Club had a carpentry workshop where I built furniture worth a king’s ransom and created sculptures better than anything Rodin or Michelangelo had ever done.
It was my childhood, but living in a small house was not a dream come true. For my family, it was a hard life to live until the times were better.
But for those who want to live in a tiny house, go ahead. But don’t spend $ 30,000 or $ 40,000 or $ 50,000 to build one. If you want to live in a Tiny House, there are still trailer parks around where you can find a much cheaper Tiny House. If people want to save the earth, they should not waste the earth’s resources by building a new small house. Reuse an old trailer. There are still 22ft trailers around that might be perfect for them.
Or lovers of small houses could go all the way and live in an aluminum garden shed. I know where there is a yellow and a green, at least I know where there was one in San Francisco. It lacked any of the comforts a cottage lover craves, but it was just perfect for a poor graduate student majoring in writing poetry. Along one wall was a twin bed that took up only three feet of living space, and since I’m less than six feet, there was plenty of room to lie down.
On the other side of this little house was a sink. Granted, the sink wasn’t plugged in and couldn’t be used, but at least the house had a sink in it. A life-size statue of the Virgin Mary stood at the entrance blessing this collection of broken and damaged statues. Was it romantic? No. But the rent was okay and living there enabled me to go to college.
Minihouse hunters should therefore not be spending tens of thousands of dollars to build minihouses. They can find an aluminum garden shed the same size as me for around $ 300. The struggle is the reality of living really tiny.
As for me, instead of a small house, I now have a large house on five acres of land with a giant library more than three times the size of the two small houses I lived in. What is romantic for me is having my own library and dozens of fruit trees growing in my garden with ripe fruit most of the year and enough space to stretch out, walk around and have an indoor bathroom … or three.
Have a compelling first-person story you want to share? Send your story description to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up to become a founding member and help shape the next chapter of HuffPost