Diary of a Transplant: Space Issues

  |  September 26, 2013

You live in the city for 15 years, and after the first few bedazzled years, you start to feel kind of hemmed in, at home. There is not enough space for your clothes, or for the many trappings of adult life that you gradually acquire, like the blender and the mixer, or for your shoes, or even for the food you need to eat over the course of a week.

And that’s before you have children. You have one kid and it gets worse, and then another, and it gets crazy. Then they keep growing and accumulating stuff, and the space issue just spirals out of control.

And it becomes comical, but also trying and exhausting, always juggling the things that simply don’t fit into your less-than-1000 square feet of living space. You and your partner, with your two children and their stuff, and in this region of four seasons, one of which requires boots and puffy jackets and two others of which require another type of boots and a different set of jackets. For all four of you.

And you with your two or three or four lives throughout the year: the one where you are in an office, needing one type of clothes and shoes, and other in which you are slouching around your neighborhood trying to still look kind of hip, and another in which you are in the park or the gym working up a sweat, and still another in which you are in Vermont or New Hampshire or the Cape on vacation. All of these lives require diverse wardrobes and accessories.

And maybe you have a particular issue — a music-obsessed pack rat for a partner, say, who has two guitars and three tube stereos and several pairs of salvaged vintage (read: huge) amps, and over 1000 records, and also many, many, many carpentry tools.

And it’s just too much stuff and too little space, and finally the only the thing that will keep your sanity is to move out of the freaking city, to the magical land of spacious houses and empty driveways and walk-in closets. Ohhh… and pantries… and mud rooms… and attics and basements.

You think you want a 2,000-square-foot house. You think that will be perfect. But you cheat sometimes and type 3,000-square-feet into the MLS search. Just to see what it would be like. You go and look at a totally weird 10,000 square foot house/studio in Columbia County. Just imagine!

But you settle on a nice 2000-plus square feet, and then suddenly it is three years later. You have been living in a 2,000-plus square foot house in the country all this time. You have 15 acres of land. And a second little house that is usually rented out, but also holds tools and books and kayak paddles in its basement. And there is a barn next to that which holds a giant oak desk and a lawn mower and a log splitter and a motorcycle and a couple wheel barrows and a snowblower and 100 bales of hay and about 1000 other things.

When you finish one task on your land — say, feeding the pigs and hosing them down and watching them play — and head out to do another task — say, reminding your 14-year old son to stack the firewood — for a while you are just walking through grass to get to where you are going. Sometimes the task is something as simple as returning a shovel to its place in the barn. And there you are, walking and walking and walking. In the city you could walk out to the bodega and buy some limes and then to the bagel store and then to the corner store for the paper in the time it takes you, here, to go put the pitchfork away.

(Which is not bad, of course, because you are walking through meadow with all of its chest-high goldenrod and chicory and burdock, or past the chicks the black hen hatched last month, or past the friendly ponies reaching their noses out to you, or whatever. But it takes a long fucking time to get anything done, just because of the walking.)

In the house you have two guest rooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms and a walk-in closet. You have several choices for where to put the linens. There is room for all the groceries you’d ever buy. There is a drawer in the kitchen just for the errant plastic lids. It is awesome.

But it has its own problems.

The cleaning, for example.

The heating bills, for another example.

I am always grateful that I didn’t succumb to the temptation of a much larger house. I even wish we had settled on a smaller house.

I love my life and love our home and especially love our land. But could it be smaller? Definitely.

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