The tiny house has left the nest, at least for the time being. After a daring journey down I-95, it has arrived safe and sound at the Convention Center, ready for its debut at the Flower Show. Our baby is growing up.
I, on the other hand, have returned to the nest. In November, I moved back in with my parents, and in December I turned 25. It’s not the first time I’ve lived at home since graduating from college; between various backpacking trips and jobs I’ve been at home for a few months at a time, including the summer that I planted my first vegetable garden in the backyard.
I’ve always been incredibly grateful to have a place to land, to have parents who love me and don’t seem too worried about where I’m headed. And yet, every time I’ve come home there’s always been this anxiety that bubbles up, a vague feeling of failure or lack of independence.
But lately, I’ve found, that voice has been subsiding. I can feel myself starting to relax, starting to breathe a little bit more deeply. For the first time in a long time, I’m starting to fully enjoying living in this house with my mom, dad, and brother. We’re working on projects together (my mother says we’ll always remember this time as the ‘Year of the Tiny House’), sharing household chores, planning the garden. We’ve even got a dinner roster up on the fridge (I cook Friday nights). When it’s cold, we make a fire. On Thursday nights, the Swarthmore Ukulele Orchestra comes over for rehearsal. On Sundays, we alternate making a big dinner with another family. We’ve got grand plans to clean out the basement.
We were born into a divisive culture, one that values competition and the individual above all else, and that squeezes community into the margins. This is not news. My mother says she realized at some point, we all live in this town together, but really, when it comes down to it, we’re all going it alone. Conceptions of family squeezed into a nuclear box, and then broken down further. Living with your parents after college, moving back to your hometown – these are things that American culture tends to see as weakness or failure.
But I don’t think we were meant to live such separate lives. There’s this great moment in The Ascent of Humanity where Charles Eisenstein talks about community. I’d find the quote, but my copy of the book is in Russia with a friend. Essentially, he says, true community means interdependence; relying on others and being relied upon.
I’ll be moving out soon, but I know that I will continue to work with my family, to rely upon them and to be relied upon in healthy symbiosis. We’ve got the seeds of community tucked into the living soil, drawing air and water and nutrients, growing, giving food, shade, breathing water back into the soil, giving back. Here’s to the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.