By Kyle Harvey
I have spent much of my adult life thinking about living spaces. For quite some time, as a touring musician, sleeping arrangements were made on the fly. Sometimes a couch and many times a floor, finding a place to crash after a show on the road was almost always an adventure. In the event that we were unable to find a place to stay, we could always find a piece of ground underneath the stars in the sky. Camping was common and comfortable, in warmer months. On occasion it meant sleeping on top of picnic tables at rest stops. Once, it even meant sleeping directly on the pavement in a bank parking lot, two blocks off of the Vegas Strip, complete with a good pair cowboy boots under my head taking the place of a pillow. While not always ideal, it was most certainly romantic.
Naturally, I have spent a great deal of time pondering society’s perception of shelter and home, which has led me to looking up their definitions, respectively. According to Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary, shelter is something that covers or affords protection. Further, their definition of home is not only one’s place of residence, but also the social unit formed by a family living together.
Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska the idea of a home generally went hand in hand with the very concrete idea of traditional housing. You can imagine my sense of surprise and intrigue when my wife and I moved our family 900 miles to Moab, Utah, finding that the idea of home was not so immediately attached to traditional housing, instead noting a general acceptance and openness to many forms of nontraditional living spaces, ranging from single-wide trailer homes featuring a myriad of unique build-on techniques, to folks experimenting with straw bale houses, teepees, yurts, and other earthen plaster forms. In addition to these historical methods, there are a rather large number of people utilizing the prehistoric, yet perfectly efficient idea of cave dwelling. From the simplistic living techniques of cultural revolutionary Daniel Suelo, to the modernized renovations of the Hatchrock community, the idea of relatively constant and comfortable temperatures is appealing, and of simple efficiency. However, the nontraditional living space that I found most fascinating was the one that was mobile, specifically vintage travel trailers.
Little did we know that a travel trailer experience was in our near future.
When my wife was recently offered a fantastic job opportunity in the beautiful state of Colorado, we set out to find a home in Fruita, one of the last towns on the Western Slope before entering Utah. Our goal was to find a place before our son would start back to school. With the summer winding down, time was running out and we were coming up empty handed in our search. Knowing our struggle, our close friends offered up the idea of living in a 1950’s travel trailer parked out behind their woodworking shop. In addition to the trailer, they also offered a second workshop space to be converted into a living space for our two children, complete with air conditioning. Embracing the adventure, we moved the bulk of our possessions into storage and began to settle into our new home.
We have been living in this situation for a few weeks now, and while it has taken some getting used to, it has been easy to find rhythm in the simplicity of living in a tiny space. The clutter of our traditional living space lives waits for us in a storage unit. Since moving in, I have only been to the unit to get something once, and that was to grab a sleeping bag, cooler and folding chair to go camping with some friends. Overall, I have felt freed by the concept of less is more.
As I write this piece for Tiny House Blog, I listen to the charming sound of a light, summer rain tapping on the trailer’s tin roof. Our boy quietly plays with his Legos as our little girl naps in the old workshop, cat curled up at the foot of her princess bed. My wife, taking a break from work, has just returned from a run. By my definition, I am home, surrounded by my family, the people that I love.
Kyle Harvey is a musician, poet, artist and dreamer. He lives in Fruita, Colorado with his wife and two children. You can follow his blog at http://kyleharvey.wordpress.com/