I started on the planet in the foster care system obviously owning absolutely nothing. Very early in life I was fortunate to call home where I lived with my new adopted family. I’m standing on the steps of the parsonage in Chicago with my big brother in the picture to the far left.
My dad was a pastor and back in the day, pastor’s families often lived in a “parsonage”. A parsonage was a house owned by the church, typically on the property, loaned to the pastor and his or her family. Folks working in that industry did not bring in big salaries, the reason to work as a pastor was more about a calling to serve and connect with people and a shared spiritual journey with the grand creator. We didn’t grow up comparing ourselves to others based on the size of our house or things we owned, since we didn’t own much. We just thought of home as a place you live.
Like the minimalists of today, people came before things, and so did lots of joyful memories.
Also, in the summer time, when we went on vacation we’d head twelve hours north to a small lake in Canada where we had what I would consider the original of tiny homes, a cabin! Our cabin was especially small as it was made of an old gun shack, no more than 100 square feet. So as you can see having my two hundred square foot home all to myself is really living in luxury! In the cabin, the bed folded up into a table in the daytime. The windows and porch extended the size of the building as it brought the outdoors inside. We didn’t have insta pots back then, but we did have crock pots and electric fry pans. Paper plate vs washing dishes was often the choice we made. How we were to get our water and deal with sewage were all things that had to be thought out. Water came from a nearby well and using an outhouse was normal. Granted I don’t have a composting toilet today but there are definitely similarities. And somehow when I think of doing that activity in an outhouse vs right inside of our living spaces, the old fashioned, or tried and true way, somehow seems cleanlier. Every space had multiple uses and was creatively designed. The middle photo from the right was one view of the cabin. It was much more charming than this picture, but this is the picture I have.
In spite of the fact that others around us had bigger much fancier cabins, my memory of this as a kid, was not one that lacked for anything. No matter how many family and friends would come over to visit, magically they all fit inside, and conversation and connection and community were the most important things, not whether or not we had a good internet connection or hundreds of channels on the TV. As a matter of fact, there was no TV, and the radio only played on a couple of stations, some of the time. In my current RV park and in the postings of those who are out and about boon docking, internet really only comes up when someone is talking about using it for their source of income, and their are creative ways to make that happen.
Like my modern day Airstream, shown in the picture on the right, the small cabin structure also encouraged us to get out and about, enjoying the nearby adventures in the forest, or out on the lake, or hiking to visit neighbors. The community, in this case a coop of other folks in small trailers was an important part of our existence, and demanded that a diverse group of folks learn how to get along and work together when it came to decisions that effected the whole community. Like days long gone by, in todays modern day RV Parks, Nomad groups etc, you will find more diversity in every aspect of the word and an incredibly strong caring community that looks out for each other, in spite of our diversity, unlike a lot of the silo building we are seeing today dividing us into groups of people who are just like us.
Night time stories around the fire gifted me with many fond memories of those days. As I look at my current RV life, it is all very familiar. When thinking about downsizing into a Tiny House, my dad thought it a good idea for me to first try out living in a trailer to see if I liked it. Even though I thought it was a great suggestion, I smiled, as I already knew, this was how life was when I was small and I loved every minute of it, and am loving every minute now, including the modern day environmental friendly fire pits in RV living and the community building that happens around them.
My neighbors all look out for each other, support and help each other and enjoy each others company. I learned early on, talk to folks, get to know them and give back.
Did my early life and homes teach me about living tiny or did tiny living make me appreciate my early life? Who knows! But I’m glad I found my way here on this journey.
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