The way we build our homes.

When I was growing up, there were certain objects that remained a presence in my life.  There was the antique spinning wheel of some ancestor which could be set in endless looping motion with a slight pump on the foot treadle.  there was the ironwood eagle that was always silk-smooth to the touch, and the dolphin mobile which glinted reflected outdoor light.  There was the hurricane lamp with its strangely ornate key that controlled the wick.  Some of these items were more or less monetarily valuable, but they were the things that my senses seemed to be drawn to at that time.

My family is a family of pack rats.  I myself seem to acquire a more ungainly collection of possessions each year I’m alive, though I try to limit them.  I throw things away now.  But I am also concerned about consumption.  I’m worried about buying too much of what I don’t need even more than I’m worried about saving it.  And while I plan to live in my current apartment no more than a year, I dread the idea of living quarters also becoming disposable.

There is a trend in the area of building design that has been rising abroad for some time and is starting to gain a slight foothold in the U.S.  This change could be called ‘adaptable’ or ‘mobile’ or ‘transformable’ housing, but the word that most comes to mind for me is ‘temporary’.  While I can appreciate the cost of remodeling and the dynamic of a changing family, the idea of too much change in a home bothers me.  Should I want to be able to easily change the living space?  Or is more permanence a handicap?  Would more flexible houses be easier or less easy to resell?  Would people even want to resell them, or would flexibility preclude that?  What would be the true, rather than fiscal, worth of such a place?

A house, like a life, or a group of possessions, or a group of friends, takes on a certain personality of its own with the shared experiences of those who live there.  Office and retail space may easily fluidly change.  We realize the economic need of such changes, though we may be irritated when a favorite business closes or moves to a different location.  But I wonder about introducing such flexibility into our daily lives.  Though I’ve lived in different places almost every year for the past nine, I don’t wish for this change to continue throughout my life.  I’d like to be secure in a single place.  And someday I will be secure, in a small cottage with a large kitchen and plenty of garden space and trees outside.

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