I grew up in a tiny house. Some would call it a trailer, but I’ve never understood why it is important to distinguish. It was a single wide (meaning itty bitty), had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. That was it. We actually had one bedroom that was so full of crap (did I mention that our house had no storage whatsoever?) that my parents didn’t even sleep in there, they slept on the couch. They (still) have a huge sectional sofa and each side is long enough for a sleeping adult. It worked well for them because my dad is ascared of burglars. So our family of four lived in a house with no room to roam. You could hear everyone anywhere. There was almost no privacy, unless you locked yourself in the bathroom (which I did quite frequently), and we all lived to tell the tale. I wouldn’t call it ideal, but I wouldn’t call it the worst thing in the world either. So that brings me to my real reason for writing this post…
I am tired of the gigantic houses, and I am guilty of living in one. I’m not saying this to brag, quite the opposite actually, I say this because I am ashamed. Not ashamed that my husband and I have done well enough in life to be able to live in a big house, but I am ashamed that I felt this size house was necessary. As our neighborhood expands, I walk down the street and I see thousands of trees that are marked for death. They have to go down to make room for the new houses. Birds sing in the branches that, in just a few days, will no longer exist, except in a pile of tree dust that will line our perfectly formed flower beds. The squirrels race each other around the trunks, playing in the only place they’ve ever known, not knowing that soon they will be re-homed, or worse, killed during the clearing. These animals, these trees, they all die because of us. Us humans who need 3,000 square foot houses, with big front yards, large driveways, and even bigger backyards for our dogs. How could we possibly live without a walk-in closet? What would we do without our loft, our playroom, our kitchen with counter space enough to hold feast for 50? What would happen if we didn’t have a huge soaker tub and two sinks? Without our large garages, we may have to park on the street! I have all of these things, yet it makes me sick to think about the things that are destroyed because of it. And to see that our house is the smallest in the neighborhood at 2,700 sqft, it blows my mind. This is too much house for anyone, especially our small family of three.
Why do we, as a society, continue to think that bigger is better? People used to live in houses that were smaller than my little trailer I just described. And this was when there was plenty of land, and A LOT less people. (Fun fact, did you know that in the past 24 years, the earths population has grown by over 2 billion people? From just over 5 billion to now (last I heard) to 7.3 billion? Learned that from a book I love called A Last Chance To See, a book that probably spurred this post). Why have we suddenly decided that our children need to have a bedroom, a play room, and a loft? I had a bedroom that I shared with my sister (not that that was ever ideal) and I had outside. But we can’t just send our kids outside anymore, especially not in these huge neighborhoods. People drive too fast, or snatch kids off the street. I try not to be paranoid, but every time I see a small kid (5-10 years old) riding his bike down the street alone, I get queasy. But why? My friends and I used to walk around our neighborhoods from sun up to sun down, and I’m not that old either (30 – eek). Why is it that even though we live in these too huge neighborhoods, with their too huge price tags, that we are still afraid of bad people? It just shows that a bigger house and more money are not the answer in life. It doesn’t bring you peace of mind, it doesn’t bring you added security. What it does is bring you more space to clean inside your home, more chances to wonder if your child is safe when she crawls out of your site, more silence from your spouse who is not only in another room, but on another floor. It is separating us from our families and ourselves. Sometimes I cannot sleep because I’m thinking about all the things that need to be cleaned, that I most likely will never get to, because why? We don’t even use those rooms!
I think the destruction of the woods, forests, and lands is getting overwhelming. I see it daily in our town, because our town is growing by the thousands each year. The demand for housing continues to rise, and the houses must be huge! The trees must ALL come down to make way for the screened in porches, patios, and outdoor fireplaces. The plants who thrive must be dug up and tossed into the street for the street sweeper (yes, we have one of those), to make way for pretty plants who won’t come back up next year. For plants who are deer resistant, because why should we feed the animals who inhabit our area? Why are they still even here? Shoo, you annoying creatures, do you even have a home anymore?
I know there is no way to stop this need. This desire for the biggest and the best. I know this, mainly, because I walk down the street with the 6,00 sqft houses, and I begin to drool. They’re all brick, they have wrap around porches, two decks, three car garages, and I want that. I ask myself why, and don’t have an answer other than “it’s pretty”. That’s not good enough. We have to stop destroying so much just so our houses can be HGTV worthy. We have to consider the planet, and the fact that tearing down acres and acres of trees is not going to be healed by us planting one tree by the sidewalk in front of each house. That tree is not going to support the life of all the animals, it’s not even going to support the life of us if this trend continues. We have to start worrying about what we are doing in the name of luxury, in the name of pretty, in the name of I gotta have it all, because once we’ve taken it all….