A couple Sundays ago, 500 people walked through my house. I — or more accurately my home — was part of the 2013 Tour of Homes. These sorts of things usually showcase large, meticulously decorated places. I, however, live in a 780-square-foot log cabin. There’s a taxidermied rooster on my mantle.
So how is it that this proponent of simple living and small houses finds herself and her abode on a home tour? Well, Asheville, North Carolina, being quite far from Stepford, has plenty of variety in its neighborhoods. And the people who live here really appreciate that. Before coming to my house, ticket holders had seen the sleek lines of a modern home overlooking the city. They had visited an Italian Renaissance Revival home whose living room was once graced by Martin Luther King, Jr.. They walked through a Frank Lloyd Wright-style place whose owner housed not one, but two Porsches in the garage. And then there was my place. A log cabin. With a screened-in porch. Beside a babbling brook.
“I think my house is the smallest on the tour,” one homeowner whispered to me. I assured her that probably wasn’t the case. I was right — mine was smaller by 400-square-feet. Not that I much cared.
Another woman worried that her house, decorated in a traditional style, wasn’t as nice as some of the others. I wondered why there was such a need for comparisons? I went around to view the other homes on the tour for a couple hours while my neighbors and landlord served as docents in my cabin. I wasn’t concerned that mine was so different from all the rest. That I was the only renter among us. That my space lacked a garage, a basement, a couple thousand square feet. We all choose how we want to live our lives. I choose to live small. What prompted that? A number of things over the years:
- The desire to live in different places (it’s easier to move when you don’t own as much “stuff”).
- An awareness of how little I “need” (especially after living out of a backpack for 37 days).
- A realization that I prefer spending money on experiences (like travel) as opposed to physical objects.
After a visit to the other homes, I returned to my little oasis. My landlord greeted me. “I could have rented this place many times over,” he said. “But I told them we already have a wonderful tenant.” Indeed. What other tenant would say, “Sure, open my place up to 500 people for six hours on a Sunday”?
Then it was my turn to take over docent duties. People loved the space and asked me, “Do they ever rent it out?”
“Yes,” I would say. “To me.”
“You live here?”
“You are so lucky.” Indeed I am. I have just what I need. (Actually, I’ve determined I still have more than I need, but that’s another story.)
My parents came to visit last weekend. They stayed in my cabin. I, as usual, over-planned our time. Thankfully, my mother didn’t lose sight of the treasure I had. When asked what we should do next, she always offered, “Let’s just go back to your place and sit on the porch.” I wish we had done it more often. Indeed, the best moments of that weekend were spent there: working on a crossword puzzle with Mom, Dad in a rocking chair reading to his heart’s content from the Kindle I’d just taught him to use, sharing breakfast there with them in the morning, or dinner with them and friends at night.
I’ve loved this place since the moment I saw it. But as time passes, I tend to take for granted what surrounds me. Sometimes it takes others pointing it out to remind me. One or two will do, but 500 people telling you how lucky you are? That surely helps.
What are you grateful for today?