In Alaska while work exchanging at a permaculture farm I slept every night in a tiny house. One morning I woke up and stared at the ceiling weighing options for the next phase of my life. I have no plans past my Honduras trip that finishes in October. I’ve been traveling at breakneck speed this year, averaging more than one location per week. Especially as someone who claims to be a slow traveler, that’s just straight-up insane, frequently miserable, and generally numbing.
So post-Honduras, I want to pick a single spot to be for at least the North American winter. If it’s good, I might even be tempted to extend into spring. Perhaps I’ll go crazy and spend an entire year in one place… a feat I haven’t accomplished since 2009. Heck, maybe I’ll even stick around for 18 months. Or 20. Or 24?! After seven years of non-stop travel 1the longest I’ve been in one place since April 2010 was the six months I spent in Vermont in 2016 going to circus school and 10 months of whirlwind travels, I’m ready for a break!
How to Build Without Building Houses
While staring at the farm’s tiny house ceiling weighing my upcoming options, I thought about how I want to grow my residential construction skill sets. The obvious possibilities – working for a contractor or taking classes – do not appeal. Contractor timelines are slower than the learning pace I want, and the business’ efficiency and profits aren’t helped by an employee doing new tasks all the time. Classes are heavy on theory without real-world application. I’m great at sucking up facts in a classroom, but my spatial abilities are way too weak for a permanent grasp on physical concepts presented via powerpoint.
There’s also the fact that modern, Western culture disgusts me far more often than it pleases me. I don’t currently proselytize, but on my to-write list are dozens of articles about how today’s blueprint for life really sucks. I frequently reject ideas about how to spend my time, because the idea would require more participation in the rat race than I am willing to experience. The last thing I want to do is spend my days building over-sized houses that promote nuclear families and the individualism that is destroying the way of life I value most.
My next staring-at-ceiling thoughts were about how much I was enjoying the farm’s tiny house and how adequate it was. Especially in the context of a property with a main gathering space, kitchen, and other facilities.
Then it hit me. Tiny houses. I could grow my construction skills over the winter if I can find someone manufacturing tiny houses and convince them to take me on via a mentorship structure. Building houses that help people escape the rat race, unsaddle themselves from the mortgage yolk, and stop living at a scale that doesn’t suck up time and resources like ebola sucks up nuclear-import proteins? Yes, please!
The Tiny House Rabbit Hole
I’m a poster child for the paradox of choice. The incredible freedom to be anywhere I choose at any time also involves the burden and time-suck of sifting through hundreds of options. 2A people-pleaser like myself also has the joy of guilt stemming from choosing things I want for myself over things other people want from me.
Where to start with the tiny house idea? Well, I love the Pacific Northwest. It’s a region of the U.S. whose tiny-house-movement membership is strong. Looking for manufacturers involved clicking through tiny house websites to figure out where each business was based and what they actually do. On one site, I noticed they had a workshop coming up in Seattle during my visit to the city. Surely a weekend spent learning about tiny houses would provide a better foundation than I currently have, right?
Fast forward to today… I’ve spent this last week cramming hard, watching hours of build videos that come with the pre-workshop materials. I’ll be attending and writing an article!
Fits Like A Glove
As I bounced around the workshop presenter’s website to grow my knowledge foundation and watched his TED talk, an awesome realization dawned on me. He and his wife aren’t just in the tiny house business. They actually care about empowering people to build their own space to escape the American-Dream-Turned-Nightmare. I also realized it’s pretty hard to be interested in tiny houses without also being interested in living life fully awake and free. Have I found my tribe?!
Realization #3: a good percentage of the workshop attendees will probably be people who have plans to build tiny houses really soon. Maybe I’ll be meeting my winter playmates as well?!
I’m awfully excited.
I know many Half the Clothes readers are hungry for a life that doesn’t involve getting up to an alarm and spending the bulk of your day earning a paycheck. And many have clicked through tiny house articles, window shopping for the space you’d pick to go with the simpler life you dream of.
I’m excited to share things that might help make your travel-freedom-dreams a reality!