From Paradise to Eden (another tale of a tindominium)
For the past month, I’ve been transitioning from living in Paradise to Eden. I know that’s doesn’t evoke a lot of sympathy, but it’s not all palm trees and ocean breezes. Living in a tiny cottage in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands half of the year and in a small tindominium on Outer Cape Cod the other six months does have its challenges, especially for this writer who needs a modicum of space and calm. People have remarked to me, “Oh, I watch Tiny House on HGTV. I’d love to do that.”But is tiny house living all it’s cracked up to be? Here’s the reveal: the good, the bad and the ugly about transitioning from the Caribbean cottage to the Outer Cape Cod tindo. A confession. After six months of tropical temperatures, azure blue waters, and Tradewinds caressing my body, I actually looked forward to a few chilly New England days when I would slip into jeans and a sweater and warm my feet in my Ugg slippers. I imagined being perched on the comfy couch on gray rainy days with a real hardcover book on my lap. St. John had begun to change from pleasantly warm to bloody hot and, not to sound ungrateful, I was done with it, at least until November. Shortly after our return in May, we had three consecutive days of ninety-degree temperatures, followed by a never ending forecast of days filled with endless rain with temperatures in the fifties. My dream come true, to an extreme. Sure, I got to curl up with books and to write prolifically in the dank darkness of the tindo, but when would I be able to plant my garden? Within days, the intimate coziness of our small living quarters began to feel confining. The clutter that comes with being stuck indoors for days on end mounted and spread like an amoeba throughout our tiny tindo. I realized tiny house living presupposes (at least for me) that a lot of time is spent living outdoors. But there was the soothing rain on the roof, the birds from the Audubon sanctuary next door visiting our feeders not realizing there’s a boundary between the properties, and the pine trees whispering that we should just enjoy the respite from the heat and “be in the moment.” We planted our garden during misty breaks from the downpours. The plants seemed happy and so were we. The cool quiet of our tiny gardens was a perfect place to germinate ideas for the stories I would later put to words. A drive to the beach late each afternoon to watch the seals surfing in the Atlantic Ocean from inside our car while the rain pelted down reminded me that this was the same Atlantic Ocean I had soaked in daily while in St. John. The same ocean, but not the same. One smoky gray, swirling in random angry configurations, smashing against the white sand leaving a foamy froth along the edge. The other an illusive shade between green and blue, warm and smooth as silk, often as still as a mirror, but occasionally moody and agitated. Internalizing the vastness of the ocean and the openness of the garden helped me understand that it’s not the size of the space I live in that matters, but rather the space inside of me. I can live anywhere as long as I remember to bring the outdoors in.