I should be cleaning right now. Instead, I'm writing this and listening to Michael Pollan talk about industrial agriculture on NPR. The reason I should be cleaning is that we're expecting a guest and I'm the kind of person who cleans in advance of expected guests.
Maybe that sounds fussy but truth is I have to. And here's why:
My house is tiny.
By choice, I should add, in case you're thinking, Oh, poor you in your cramped little 1950s Cape Cod Revival.
We looked at plenty of bigger houses when we were in the market but just weren't feeling any of them. Living in NYC back in the day I got used to small spaces. I actually dream about moving back, which would involve stuffing my entire family into an apartment smaller than the house we live in now - that should give you some idea of my personal comfort level for small space living.
What does small space living mean for us? One bathroom. No dining room. Eat-in kitchen. Living room the size of your average American bedroom. Bedrooms the size of... I don't know. No master bedroom.
Here's what else it means: Things can't pile up. They just can't.
Living in a small house means that the road to clutterville is lot shorter for us. Some people might go crazy having to keep on top of possessions the way we - and by we I pretty much mean I - do but I like how we have to think carefully about what we bring into the house and what we keep. I enjoy getting things that are neither useful nor beautiful out of the house and finding a place for everything so at the end of the day I can put everything back in its place.
Making our small house work for a family of four is like doing a puzzle, and I love it.
It's not all rainbows and unicorns, though.
One downside is that no one else is thinking carefully about what we can or can't fit in our house, which can sometimes make some gifts feel more like an obligation than the happy surprise they should be. Sometimes big things end up in the basement until I figure out what to do with them or enough time passes that the sentimental people I live with give me the okay to donate, recycle, or toss them.
The other big downside? Well, that depends on what you call a downside. I like to keep things neat and tidy no matter how much space is available but when your available space is at a premium, like I said above, straightening up is no longer a choice. It's an absolute must.
Because honestly, you wouldn't believe how quickly these small spaces can become chaotic.
Let things go? Don't make me laugh - I'd be buried under dishes and Brio train tracks in a day and half!