I just realized today that I live small. I leave a small footprint on the earth — driving as little as possible, walking wherever I can; buying little, recycling what I can; getting rid of what possessions I can, scaling back on what I can’t. I am also a small thinker. Though I like to think I think big thoughts, I actually get bogged down in minutiae and overthinking. When I listen to music (which is almost never), I keep the sound turned down. I would like to write expansively, but I write small, dredging each word and each idea out of the depths of my mind. My non-writing creative projects are all small — literally, not metaphorically since I tend toward tiny things such as dollhouse doll’s dolls and miniature plants. (The pot of roses illustrating this article is standing on quarter to give you an idea of how small it is.)
Even my everyday life is small. Temporarily, I find myself living alone in what seems to me a mansion, and yet, I live in the same two small rooms I used when I was looking after my father. (To be 100% accurate, as my minutiae-driven mind dictates I must be, only the bedroom is small. The living room of my suite is 16’x18’.)
I’m not one of those people who take a mile when given an inch. In fact, when given an inch, I generally only take a centimeter. (2.54 centimeters per inch according to Google.) In this case, I am aware of my tenuous situation. The house belongs to my father’s estate, not me, so I’ve been hesitant to take advantage of living here, even though according to local law, this is my home. Besides, I am performing valuable services, not just house sitting, but clearing out my father’s things.
Still, I’ve never danced around the house in my underwear like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Never slept in another of the bedrooms or used the main living room except when I had my pre-probate party. Never even used my father’s Jacuzzi. (He never used it either, come to think of it, so I can’t really say it was “his” Jacuzzi.)
This not taking advantage of the situation reminded me of an Emo Philip joke I heard a very long time ago. He talked about taking a girl home from a date, and how she passed out half naked, and so, as he said, “I took advantage of her . . . I called Guam.” I wanted to use the joke in his inimitable way to illustrate this post, and to that end, I’ve spent the past two hours searching online for the exact words. I didn’t find the joke, but I got my example anyway — my spending so much time searching for what was a trivial part of this bloggery illustrated my living small. (But I did come across some of his wonderful one liners that I remember, including this one: Some mornings, it’s just not worth chewing through the leather straps. And two liners like this one: When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.)
My sister-in-law was here this weekend, helping get the house ready for sale, and she asked why I didn’t take the curtain off the glass door separating my rooms from the rest of the house. I explained that everyone else tells me it would scare them to live alone in such a big place, so just in case I’d have such a problem, I’ve kept the curtain. It made the place small and familiar enough that being alone here didn’t bother me. (Loneliness does bother me, but that’s something completely different.) My sister-in-law commented on how full of contradictions I was, talking about living out in the open on some sort of epic adventure, but living behind a curtain here in this house.
She has a point.
So today I took down the curtain. Not exactly living large, but it’s a start.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.