The Bastard Child of Two Dreams

I am split in half. I have two very different dreams.

In one dream, I have a comfy home on half an acre — a result of my Zillow searches for land, my obsession with bungalows and modern prefab homes, and my deep-down desire for a countryside property I can call my own. In the other dream, I’m nomadic and free of nearly everything — living out of my backpack; or roaming around North America in a tiny travel trailer; or Airbnb hopping, exploring a different city each month.

After a recent conversation with my husband, I realized that our tiny house is the bastard child of these two very different dreams. Built on wheels, with a traditional facade and an interior with bits of modern design, the house is a confused byproduct of two goals and two lifestyles — and a symbol of my fragmented self. It’s cute as hell, but considering my two opposite dreams of planting roots and exploring the world, it’s stuck in limbo and doesn’t actually do either of these things well. It can be towed, but it’s heavy, bulky, and not nimble like an RV. On the other hand, at 131 square feet, it’s simply too small to be truly comfortable — and is far from a space that we could grow in.

I had the time, budget, and opportunity to create home from scratch — to address my longtime struggle between two things.

And in the end, this is what I birthed.

I’m not sure what this means: Am I an awful planner? Can I not be trusted with house plans? Should we have bought a camper van instead? Is my house ultimately impractical? 

Despite being mindful, even dismissive, of the romantic attitude toward tiny houses, were we still swept away?

(Yes — I hear you saying, “I told you so.”)

But I’m not disappointed in my child. Despite its flaws, I’m pleased with our house and very happy to live where I live; to look out of my kitchen window into a beautiful green pasture; and to live in a physical space that we truly own and have paid off. But there were multiple paths we could have taken, and I constantly wonder if this was the best one.


I felt this post should live here instead of there. Not sure why. If you’ve not followed along on my other blog, please take a peek there before commenting here.

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including

48 thoughts on “The Bastard Child of Two Dreams

  1. Sounds like you’ve chosen the best of both worlds plus leaving your options opened. The nice thing about having a piece of land is that at some point in time you can always build a larger house and keep the tiny one as a guest cottage.

    1. Thanks for reading! We’ve since moved out of the tiny house and into a bigger (but small) house on a half-acre lot. The tiny house will probably be rented in the new year. It’s been nice in a bigger space with more options indeed.

  2. This was a good read for me, I feel as though I related to this post so well. I am currently opposite of you at the moment; I live in a house in the country. I absolutely love it here with the big yard , room to run around, and a great location for my future kids to grow up in. But I have always wanted to travel and explore the world a little bit more and not be tied down to anything. It’s great that, even though it can be a little hassle towing, you can hook up your tiny house and go somewhere else! I hope that one day, after your done fulfilling one dream, you get to have your dream of tying down roots somewhere.

  3. I wonder if the number of people trying to unplug is a commentary on how crazy making this society is? I come from farmers and small town ancestors all the way down the line, I know I want to unplug like that. Tiny house on a little bits of land is the perfect solution. Like my grandpa said, “god (or whoever) ain’t gonna make more dirt.” or something like that. Land is good and trailers are good too. I can’t wait to read more about your writing aspirations as well.


  4. I think “The Bastard Child of Two Dreams” is my favorite title ever. Thank you for sharing ❤️

  5. Our fragmented selves often make decisions based on our inner most desires, which can be contradictory by nature. Living somewhere between the lines of a nomad and true homeowner isn’t so bad. At most, your home is a reflection of your true self and it happens be adorable.

  6. Simple living definitely beats anything else in this world we live in today. Thanks for the post. People need to appreciate the little things in life and country living has the freedom and privacy we all dream of.

  7. I agree with you, I really enjoy a warm and comfy small home feel. Especially have lived in Santa Barbara, which is one of the most homey cities, I highly recommend. I live in a two story house, but yet because of the local feel of SB, it feels just as comfy and warm.

  8. I enjoyed this post. I don’t live in a tiny house but a small home, about 700 square feet. We chose to have a small home because we have a huge amount of average, 33 acres to upkeep and cattle, and we travel extensively when we aren’t working so we aren’t actually physically in the house much. The only time I regret our decision is around the holidays. We both have very large families and it is difficult to fit them into our small home for holiday gatherings but other than that we love it; and it saves us so much money on living expenses money we spend on traveling. I suppose I also regret not designing our home with more storage we probably could have made it more storage efficinet.

  9. I am also often torn between my love of a sparse modernist design aesthetic and my tendency to see objects as the holder of memories, hence leading to a more eclectic and cluttered “look”. I’ve come to realise that in some ways accepting this is how my home looks and it’s never going to be some kind of “ideal” is about accepting those contradictions and imperfections in myself…

  10. The never ending thoughts of how “the grass is always greener…” I do this every now and then, and it is fun because every decision made (especially the big ones) send you on a path that is likely quite different than the one you are on. Likely not any better-or-worse, just different. Although I do have to laugh and agree with your assessment “our tiny house is the bastard child of these two very different dreams” ~ how cool is it to have such dreams?!? 🙂

  11. I think there is always something in all of our lives that we wonder about — what if? should I have? You’ve found the key: no apologies. Doubt and second guessing are as much a part of life as success and satisfaction. Here’s where you are, and what an amazing story it is to tell, and who knows where it’s going to lead? We aren’t here to never make our mistakes or change our minds.

    In a world where so many are over-leveraged, there’s a lot to be said for starting small. Romance sweeps us away, and then, eventually brings us to earth. And that’s where you are. And you have a roof over your heads to boot.

  12. It takes courage to share our gnawing thoughts and I want to thank you for opening yourself to the world. it is true that sometimes before we get to where we call our home,we have to sort through our mind and decide.I agree with you; making a decision can be daunting.

  13. Great title that puts us right in your current state of mind. I’m afraid that most our lives can be spent debating the pros and cons of our decisions. Considering how your desire to leave the city was strong, it looks like you’ve made the right choice. Not so many people will be able to tell one day of their lives in a tiny house. Make memories. Cherish them. And maybe sometime you and your husband will feel the tug for another adventure waiting for you. Meanwhile I would soak in the natural beauty of northern California and the comfort of the lovely tiny house. Best to you.

  14. Maybe this is just a temporary stage in your lifestyle evolution. Your home is beautiful. I live in an enormous behemoth with five bathrooms. It’s ridiculous. I’m very envious.

  15. You’ve done things a little opposite. The tiny house will one day be an escape hatch or as previously mentioned, a retreat from the life you built. No matter how carefully you plan a balanced life it all goes to the wayside when things happen. Things do happen. This tiny house is the perfect place for the persons you and your husband will become to reconnect with your own foundation. For now, think of that tiny house as a spot in which you will ruminate and eventually launch into the future. It is too small to grow in but perfect to mold dreams in. Enjoy the time you are there and this particular moment in your life.

  16. I’ve been struggling with the same disparate dreams — to plant roots or to up and go. I try to pacify myself by noting that it’s good to dream big and to want more, but it’s equally important to stop and appreciate where you are. The grass is always greener, right? 🙂

  17. As I also explore the meaning of home, and how to create a physical space to reflect it, I often find myself thinking similar thoughts. I’m coming to realize that my needs and values alternate in their levels of priority at different points in my life. While it can be very difficult not to constantly consider “whatever am I going to do next, and is this really a sustainable way of living?”, I’m slowly learning to be content in the present and relinquish my anxiety for the future. Best of luck to you on your own journey, and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  18. This is an interesting post. I’ve been at that crossroads many times, and tried different turns. I have been traveling the world with a backpack only, I have been pulling my 31ft RV around 38 States, I’ve had ranches of my own. Do we have to make a permanent choice? I don’t know. I like tiny houses, as I also like my RV. Right now I have my RV parked on someone else’s horse ranch, without owning any horse of my own (for the first time in many years.) That gives me the freedom to come and go.. for now that will do. Great post!!

  19. My own life experience has taught me that there are *always* going to be multiple paths you can take, and it’s the human condition to always wonder if you’ve taken the right one. The great news is that very few of our decisions are truly irrevocable — and that by birthing a few “bastard children of our dreams” (LOVE that!) we learn important things about ourselves. Perhaps in time you’ll move on to bigger lodgings, and that adorable tiny house will become your private little writing retreat. But in the meantime at least you own it, and that grants you the freedom to make the entire world your back yard. Thank you for sharing your tiny-house-building journey so openly, Cheri. It’s been wonderful to follow along.

  20. I thought about starting a blog called City Boy, Country Living… sounds like the same dilemma as you. There seems to be something so romantic about living away from all the trappings of city life, but once you’ve seen the world, it’s kinda hard to be secluded from it. But, I have my computer so… not exactly off the grid.

  21. I think it’s like most things in life, That is, a compromise, but hope you stay happy with your tiny house

  22. Bastard child, or not, it looks lovely. Can’t you have two houses and fulfill two dreams? Am I wrong or are you not relatively young? You can still have your larger house some day. But you can have this house forever. Even if you don’t want to be towing it around, every ten years or so you can take it to a new location and use it as a summer place. Meanwhile, hike ,backpack, travel. Enjoy a nomadic lifestyle. When you have children settle in a house suitable for a family. But you have this perfect gem of a little house,now, and you can cherish it always.

  23. I feel a really similar inner battle. Half of me wants a tiny house out in the forest where I can feel free, the other half wants to stay a city girl. My current reconciliation is an inner suburban home with regular trips out to the forest… But good on you for taking a risk and giving it a go! I really admire that 🙂

    1. My husband and I are very much city people as well! I’m very extreme in that I could live in a huge city like Tokyo or Hong Kong, but also perfectly happy out in the country somewhere. (Nick used to live in Cairo, and in comparison thought San Francisco was a village when he first moved there.)

  24. What a lovely thing you’ve worked out, and I appreciate your post as it conveys a problem in my own mental struggle over when determining a course of action regarding permanent homing. Almost everything has some drawbacks or limitations, and I’ve relegated myself to apartment living until it can be worked out. While I do have automobiles, there’s no guarantee I always could; even physical mobility becomes an issue as we age. I have serious concerns over limiting myself to land outside of access to public transportation.

  25. Fortunately, most choices have a level of impermanence built in. I try to remind myself of that every time I feel stuck or like I’ve gotten myself somewhere unintended. It makes it a little easier to say, okay, this is life right now and I’m going to try and enjoy it until I’m ready to make another change.

    That being said, I’m planted solidly in suburbia and adore looking at little houses like yours. Just the time spent NOT cleaning multiple rooms is enviable!

    1. Fortunately, most choices have a level of impermanence built in


      Looking at it in a different light, this house is a tangible result of my and my husband’s ideas and energies at a certain time in our lives — which is, ultimately, a cool thing. Perhaps it’s more a love child of our desire and passion for the life that we want together. Saying it that way doesn’t sound as pessimistic 🙂

  26. Love this and love that you still find happiness in your sweet “bastard child”, even though you dream about what could be… It can be so hard to accept the now. Especially with a home – where many of our stories begin or really evolve. I know I’m always think about the next step, the next change, the next need… When in the end, the most happiness I’ve felt is being comfortable and content with the “now”. That’s not to say I don’t dream. Cheers to you + lovely photo, lovely home!

    1. Thank you. I think you nailed it: it’s often hard to accept and be content with “now.” I’m impatient, always thinking of what’s next. It’s also amusing to me that a big reason why we wanted to live in a smaller space was to “simplify” — not just physically but mentally. I realize now that’s a bunch of BS, which I’ve written a bit about already.

      I also like your thought about our homes as the spaces where our stories begin and lives evolve — thanks for the reminder and encouragement to simply enjoy this.

  27. I’ve been tripping out for several years since we got our perfect house, a horse acre, and yet felt ‘off’ and haven’t figured out why/how. Throw in mid-age crisis and whatever else, that Talking Heads song (Once in a Lifetime), what have you, but there may just be this constant unsettled feeling settling, a very good tension that comes from travel vs. rooting-down, that’s a lifetime to explore and try to enjoy, like anything else. A good problem to have, to want to move and want to settle. Hard to put to words, but keep on trying. A very cool interplay of the inside and the outside.

  28. It is pointless wondering if the decision was the best. Throw yourself into it with relish, it is YOUR home, enjoy it until you no longer do and then make another decision. Hardly anyone stays in the same house forever.

  29. I applaud you for your decisions. Inspired to get comfy in my own smaller space. I believe there is much power and freedom in the term PAID OFF. All my best to you and many happy adventures ahead for you.

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