Roughly six weeks ago our family moved from a lovely 2000 square foot home in the trees of Castro Valley, California, to a tiny 1940's cottage in the small water-side town of Benicia, California. It was a daring move. While both towns are technically within the "Bay Area", or greater San Francisco metropolis, Benicia requires the crossing of a toll-bridge, which, to many Bay Areans, means it doesn't exist. This explains how I managed to overlook this quaint town for the first 6 years of my Bay Area residence.
In general, I welcome this type of "character" in a home. I prefer it to the modern comforts found in many tract homes, actually. But, it can be a challenge to take on as a renter. Particularly if the contractor in charge of renovating the well-aged home fails to complete the renovations prior to the move-in date. When we arrived on moving day, with two truck-loads of way too much stuff, our new little cottage was missing a few necessities (any appliances, useable closets, finished floors, functioning gas, electricity, plumbing, sinks and showers).
Well, for the first month of living with strange hammer-weilding men traipsing through our personal space, drilling holes in our walls, holding cock-fights on our roof (or so we suspect), and shoveling shit (yes literally) in our backyard, we weren't sure we had a good answer to that question. But, there was an answer. We came here on purpose. We were following our soul-fire. That unquenchable inner light that haunts you with visions of the life you're meant to be living. I have always felt it - since I was a child drawing pictures of my dream home.
We saw the potential for that life in this old home, in this small town. And, while the initial weeks were flooded with the dread that maybe we had made a horrible mistake, Benicia gently whispered to us that we were home. She whispered in the distant lullaby of the train whistle and passing boat horns. She presented us with gifts of sea glass and beach wood. And she embraced us with the warm smiles and genuine "hello's" of her community.
Slowly, this cottage is accepting our many treasures (and helping us to identify the less keep-worthy items). Goodwill and Craigslist have been well supplied by our loosening grip of 'stuff'. It feels good to trim back again. I have always felt at home in a cottage. It makes sense in my entropic mind to live in a smaller space with less to manage.
This is it! The beginning of the answer. A small piece of the WHY that moved us here. We are living in a 1940's cottage (at substantially less rent than before) surrounded by the promise of vegetables and flowers (and chickens?), on a quiet street with friendly, and perfectly quirky neighbors. We are just a short bike-ride away from the beach and a fabulous downtown community that embraces art and music. This is the vision. We are here and my heart feels at home.