You know you’ve done enough organizing when you catch yourself sorting your four year olds’ play kitchen 🙂 But, I do love playing house here. And here is a cozy little ranch style home that is less than 1900 sq ft.
We met more than a year ago on a hot summer’s day in August. I was charmed by the pictures I saw online but was dismissive. After all we had just moved from a house that was about 2400 sq ft. and considered a small sized home by many within our kith and kin. Take away the garage, the attic, the covered gazebo by the creek, the second story, the one room basement and about 500 sq ft and voila you have this house.
We loved our old house. It was a transitional style home with high ceilings and big french windows. We had hanging baskets and cheery daffodil creepers by the tiny little porch up front that was led to by a couple of brick steps. The neighbor’s dog always hung out here. She was partially our dog. My daughter’s first dog. I used to have potted plants of tomatoes, basil, cilantro, mint and green chillies on the steps. There was a strip of a stoned bed which after roses and echinaceas we finally settled on a vibrant mix of flowering plants and varied greens. The short strip between the pathway leading to the house and the driveway always had roses. Our four legged friend liked to dig holes here when she was upset.
Our house looked like it was up on a tiny hillock with sweeping views of the creek from our bedroom and exquisite flora from the living room.
Two decks each surrounded by little or no maintenance trees, massive oaks and flowering plants such as peonies, camellias, dogwood and hibiscus.
The deck to the left of the gazebo at the entrance to the dining area was surrounded by a stunningly constructed stoned wall adorned with tiny purple flowering creepers peeping through the crevices. On the other side of the gazebo you would take a few steps down to come to the lower deck outside the basement/entertainment room.
By the dogwood to the corner was a canopy of cascading tresses of daffodil creepers bordering the deck overlooking the creek below. It was the most beautiful sight from our bedroom windows.
There was a house far across the creek which we could only see partially during winter but the rest of the
year it was covered by the greenery that surrounded the neighborhood. The views were even more ethereal during the still of the night. The high ceilings inside were the defining feature of the house. A unique fixture was the golden brass roof above the half bath in the hallway. The skylights here and down near the basement along with the large windows and high ceilings allowed the house to be bathed with light at all times. The neighborhood had many such beautiful homes and the most wonderful part of it all was within a half mile was one of the most popular trails that led to a park perfect for little kids and very many trails all over Chapel Hill.
The house was also less than a mile away from Franklin Street. We would walk to the university when I was pregnant and sit on the bench and look at the gaslights along the pathways on the grassy fields between the buildings. I trained for my first long distance races amongst these trails and along the university buildings. It was the first time I started really enjoying and understanding what running was all about. And one of the most important irresistible thing was that we lived in a place with an inconceivably high number of restaurants within an alarmingly short radius. The choices were endless and we had dined out a lot through the many years and still hadn’t covered them all. It was in many ways a very beautiful home and it will always have a special place in our hearts also because we had our first child and were pregnant with our second in that house. The first couple of years of our oldest were made even more precious with those surroundings. Even the daycare she went to was such a wonderful experience for all of us and in many ways we really miss everything about the place. It was one of the prettiest little towns and it was close to perfect.
But, not quite. Though everything I’ve described so far was true we did have a few issues. There wasn’t much wrong with the house except the kitchen. It was much too narrow and not lighted enough. We compensated with plenty of ceiling lights. Which brings me to another aspect I really miss. The high power Broan exhaust we got installed was by far the best. It functioned like nothing we had ever seen, a high grade industrial quality with such impressive performance. Too bad we couldn’t lug it along. And then there were the snakes. Yes. The snakes. With the creek close by we had a few run ins but thankfully nothing unfortunate happened. By the end of our five year stay there was however one incident where one got in the house. I was’t too crazy about dealing with such critters. Our entertainment center was downstairs where it got too cold. We refused to put the television in our living room upstairs, which was the only sitting area other than the basement which was frankly more of an entertainment center so it does not count. Besides all of that we weren’t very successful making friends in the neighborhood. We had many from work who lived quite far from us. The neighborhood was full of doctors and professors with children in college or grandchildren even. And though they were all extremely nice it did not afford us the ability to forge close bonds as most of them already had theirs established. We could have moved neighborhoods perhaps but our next opportunity brought us here to Austin.
And then, it brought us to the doorsteps of a quirky looking mint colored ranch style house in the middle of the street with no sidewalks, no garage and just one floor. Whether it was the large windows again with the big lovely fenced in backyard, the three raised beds with plenty of vegetables and a million plants in the zen style covered patio even though I’ve been known to have a black thumb, the confectioner’s oven though again I’ve been known to keep cooking to the bare necessities, the clean lines and modern yet homely feel or the fact that I was about to have a baby in a couple of months and the nesting urge kicked in with a ferociousness we couldn’t deny; I don’t know. But, buy the house we did and then started the arduous process of moving in for the 6th time in our 8 year old marriage. I will not speak of the moves before. They add up to quite a few between us.
We had been through this drill many times before. Figure out what you need and pack those separately, pack important documents and valuables, help the movers pack and label (make sure you empty the trash unless you want to see your potato peels and egg shells delivered safely to your next house after stewing in tightly packed bags for days or weeks perhaps), help the movers move to the moving truck on moving day, clean the house spic and span, get to your destination, greet the movers, direct to the correct room, lament over lost or broken cargo like the tiny mushroom table I will never see and isn’t big enough to pursue a thorough investigation according to my husband, unpack, rest, move boxes to a corner, rest, unpack, rest, move boxes to another corner until they’re finally in a room and you can shut the door and ignore them for as long as possible.
Now, add to the mix a very very pregnant woman at the peak of the Texas summer heat trying to sell, discard, donate and send to storage hoardes of furniture and paraphernalia we no longer have room for. Add to that the frustrating task of sifting through your husband’s endless piles of nostalgia in the form of childhood sci-fi fantasies like oh let’s see; a million ‘star wars’ books, the ‘Lord of the Rings Sword’, some twenty military outfits that he says still fit (and I believe but he’s out of the military for God’s sake) and documents innumerable which he has carried around since he was 17 just because he could. And don’t forget, there’s no garage and no attic and there’s an end to the lease at the apartment. Oh Joy!
Thanks to my lovely mother we managed to accomplish this task without incident. And then we moved.
All the experience with the many moves has definitely helped me pick up some skills along the way. But the skills I would need to fit all of our stuff even after downsizing considerably would be something else. I said before that it has been over a year. During the course of that year I wanted to quit on this house several times. I wondered aloud and perhaps my husband did too but would never admit to me; why in the world would we move to a much smaller place? and why now when we were going to have another baby? It was such a counterintuitive thing to do. It’s been very daunting and if we ever had guests which we almost always do, we’re Indian, it became that much more challenging. I’m quite organized as is but I’ve had to take it up many notches. It also takes a bit of maintenance. You cannot throw things around helter skelter. Things have to go back where they belong when you are in smaller spaces. Also, the cleaning isn’t any easier though it is touted as one of the advantages. I don’t quite attest to that. If anything it may actually require a more thorough cleaning since every nook and cranny gets used and there’s a lot of traffic in a much smaller space. We have to be mindful of the smells when cooking. No Broan or super high ceilings to the rescue.
And yet, we’ve managed and have gotten on splendidly if I may say so now. I am saying so now. To be honest our younger one turning a year old has helped a great deal. All the baby junk is out. It’s remarkable how a tiny little creature comes with such a loaded truck of stuff. I attribute this completely to the doing of the unfortunate lifestyle the modern man has thrust upon himself. One that I cannot do without or at least wasn’t willing to try.
We love it here in this house and also in this city. We have made a lot of really good friends in a short period of time, not an easy feat. We have strangely enough a living area and a family room which is more than what we had in our old house. The ranch style makes it extremely comfortable to cater to the kids. We make use of almost every inch of the house. This could hardly be said about our old space where we would not use the upper story for months on end. The kids love and use the backyard a lot. I’ve managed to discard everything inessential and we both feel lighter with a sense of unburdening that comes with letting go of things that weigh you down. We think twice before buying ‘stuff’. I am more mindful with money. It was never a problem for my husband 🙂 It feels cozy. We’re all hanging around each other and it’s fun. Both my husband and I like to have our space. We used to have moments when we would take off to various corners of our old house with a book and shut off from the world and each other. We are strange like that but it works for us. And surprisingly enough we’re still able to do that here. As much as is possible with two little tykes running about. It’s definitely not for the lack of corners to hideout in. Granted, it becomes a bit crowded when there’s more people but we’re reminded it is only for a short time. We had both grown up in big households beyond the age of eight but neither of us feel the need to own a gigantic home. We remember how in India when there’s a lot of people we would adjust and it would feel like camping with everyone in the hall chatting late into the night making some wonderful memories.
We’re not minimalists. We’re just regular people figuring things out along the way. And what we’ve gravitated towards is a simpler life with less focus on material things and more emphasis on quality of living. And we’re pleased with the quality of things we’ve gotten ourselves into. We’re not moving. I love playing house here. As of now 🙂