By American standards our new house is probably slightly above average. By Southwest Minneapolis standards it would be like if a tornado picked up our house and simultaneously picked up our neighbor's house and then smacked them down in the middle of a golf course with our back doors perfectly aligned so you could go between the two houses without ever getting wet in the rain. And our garages would also get picked up and shaken upside down so that all the broken rollerblades and outdated carseats flew away in the wind so the garages were nice and empty (don't worry, the cars are parked on the street). Then the garages got smacked down side by side and close enough to the house to actually feel like its a part of the house (which people in this area think to be true - they use the garage like their front door). Liam describes our house as "mansion-y." And it meanders in a nonsensical way. Which I'm finding is typical of New England homes; you drive by these houses with offshoots and miniature houses and alcoves and garetts all connected by breezeways and bonus rooms and pass-throughs. I figure it must have agrarian roots......when people had outbuildings for their animals and equipment and one winter they just got tired of putting on their jacket every time they neede to feed the mule.
So our meanders which makes it hard to find people. At times, I've resorted to the cell phone to find Mike. Next time, leave a trail of bread crumbs, buddy. And for the first few days, Liam ran upstairs to use the bathroom because he didn't know we had one on the first floor.
The space was uncomfortable at first. The first night, we had Liam sleep in our room because we were afraid he wouldn't be able to find our room. But once he slept in his own room, he found the comfort of his morning ritual. From my warm bed each morning, I have always heard THUMP (feet hitting the floor)....pat pat pat pat pat.......(whispering) "Mom...can I get up?" I then groggily ask him what time it is. He tells me. I generally say yes. And then he says "Thanks, Mom" (seriously!) and runs away to watch TV. The first morning he slept in his own room, it sounded more like this: thump (very quiet, very far away).....pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat.........(pause).......pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat pat..........pat pat (as in "is this it?")........pat pat pat. I actually laughed out loud waiting for him to appear.
A big house is an adjustment. For example:
Cleaning: Who has time to clean a house of this size? Which leads to Who can I pay to clean a house of this size? Which leads to Who can afford to pay someone to clean a house of this size? Which leads back to Who has time to clean a house of this size?
Locking up at Night: For the first few nights, Mike and I did a walk-through together of all the doors to make sure we had properly sealed all the entry points. The many, many entry points. Does that make anyone else nervous?
Lightswitches: Hundreds of them. Everywhere. And the one you flip is never the light you need. And maybe that light is ALSO connected to another switch on the opposite side of the room which means the "up" switch might turn on and the "down" switch might turn off? But you're not going to try the "up" switch because you assume that's connected to a light that's already on? But then you get frustrated with the amount of time it's taking to TURN ON A FREAKING LIGHT and you start manically flipping flipping flipping anything just turn on the damn light. I've now decided to just leave all the lights on all the time.
Garbage Night: Collecting garbage from all the rooms feels like going on a hike (oh the meandering!). And that does NOT count hauling the can down the overly long driveway - which used to be Liam's job but will now be part of my exercise routine.
There are also bonuses to living in the NOT Not So Big House. They include:
Everything has a home! Without using "creative storage solutions" as seen on TV!
I now have two - count 'em TWO - nightstands in my bedroom.
OUTLETS! I can plug in anything I want anywhere I want! I can put a lamp where I need light! This house was not built in an age when people read by kerosene and wound their watches!
And although I'm still a fan of the "Not So Big House" concept, I recently realized that I can take a full breath in my new house. A full cleansing breath. I'm not holding it all in like Fred Flintstone's closet full of bowling balls. And Mike can walk through the house freely without banging his shoulders on corners or whacking his head on overhead pipes. So maybe it's just the space that's important and not the stuff that fills up the space. Show restraint. Have lots of comfortable seating in the places where you read and watch TV and play games. And a nice place to eat and a warm place to sleep. And then stop.