Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting in Step with Smaller Living

The last of 35,000 steps
Photo by Letty DiLeo

Having trouble walking can sure make your world tiny.

I went to crazy town a few weeks ago and ran my first half marathon on the spur of the moment. It turns out there’s a reason people train so hard to run 13.1 miles. It’s not just about how fast you finish, it’s about finishing at all. Which I did, thank you, in three-and-a-half hours. I even beat a few folks. OK, eight to be exact.

Our house from the side, 
the only vantage point 
to see the addition
But what I did not beat are the laws of nature. If your body isn’t used to pounding for 35,000 steps, including four trips over bridges, you are going to pay the price. It cost me not only moving in comfort for a few days, but the ability to walk. It’s unclear if I have a stress fracture in my foot or a soft tissue injury (ugh, sounds gooey). I haven’t had it looked at yet in hopes it just resolves itself. At day four, I was hobbling around on a crutch and the surgery shoe my daughter used when she fractured her foot in a dance performance. I staked out a little corner of our living room to do my work on a laptop, because the stairs up to the office are not my friends.

I’m happy to have done the race, and even more happy that my cane is a temporary tool. But it’s made me think about stairs of the future. I’m not saying that I’m too old for stairs, or that I don’t expect to be able to climb stairs in retirement. And people say stairs are good for you.  
But I hope to continue to be an active person who seeks out exercise and doesn’t have to rely on having a second story to keep me fit. This race reminded me that there are events and injuries that make a house without stairs a lifesaver.

Our house from the back, 1991
Our house from the back, 2013
I’ve always liked one-story houses because they tend to be smaller and cuter than their taller cousins. Our current house is a 1920s bungalow that was a 1,300-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-story when we bought it. Once we had a child, we wanted a third bedroom for an office and guests. Tucked onto a small downtown lot, we had nowhere to go but up. We are also in the historic district with strict guidelines. We discovered the “airplane” bungalows of the past, and were approved for a one-room upstairs addition that blended into the design of the house. From the front, cute little bungalow. From the back, stately two-story. Kind of like the mullet haircut of houses. It’s the best of both worlds.

Our house from the front, 1991

Our house from the front, 2013 
You can't see the addition in the back
But as I’ve blogged before, it’s just more house than we are going to need soon. We’d been looking at smaller places, even condos. But we’d focused more on square footage than access. There are plenty of second-floor condos and duplexes here in our waterfront town, perfect for rising seawaters, and some small two-story houses. But now I’m leaning toward keeping my feet, and my house, on the ground. At least until I take up skydiving at 70.

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