Tuesday, January 26, 2010

it's just a walk in the (trailer) park

Spot #79. Agave Gulch Fam Camp. That's where you'll find me these days. That is, if you're wanting to deliver me a pizza or just drop by for a visit. What I have called home for going on 6 months now is a 5th wheel, toy hauler trailer. Yes, it's a camper. No, I'm not joking. I've had so many inquires about said living arrangement, that I decided to just go ahead and make it official by adding the experience to my reflections. For me. For the curious. And for some time in the future when trailer life will be just a distant memory....

Let me begin by mentioning that...I LOVE it. Yes, I LOVE it. No, I'm not joking. I love the fact that it always feels like I'm on a camping vacation. I love the 5th wheel itself. (Those who have pitied me have come by to find that this really is hardly "roughing it".) I love that we have 3 flat screen TVs in 39 feet. I love that it only takes me about 30 minutes to tidy up the place, including bathroom, kitchen, beds, and floor. I love that I finally have a place to put my, "If the trailer's rockin', don't bother knockin'" bumper sticker. I love that when I open the door I can see the bone yard with all of its retired aircraft standing like soldiers in the not-so-very distant distance. I love the noticeably absent yard work. I love that I can get six loads of laundry done at once in the beautifully maintained laundry mat for about $10. I love the sound of the rain against the fiberglass siding. I love the creative storage space. I love the girls' motorized queen-sized bunk beds. I love the fact that I can yell at the top of my lungs and still not be within earshot of a far-lefty. I love the way this lifestyle simplifies things in such a way that I can take my girls all over to explore and experience and not be tied to...housework. Stuff. Things. Belongings. Simply put, anchors.

Now keep in mind, lady and gentleman... (I don't want to presume that anyone besides Katie and my husband read this.) this is no ordinary "trailer park". I certainly couldn't go toe to toe with 'ol Marshall Mathers living on the 8 Mile stretch. Nope. When I sit out on my slab of pavement along with all of the others to watch the desert sun set, I see over a half a million bucks sitting on almost every spot. RVs that cost more than a decent house. Motorcycles, corvettes, scooters, Segways and one ton duallys, with clever witticisms plastered anywhere they fit... "gone4good, eat.sleep.jeep., C.U.LTR, Spending Our Kid's Inheritance, and the list goes on and on.... In my park, the average age of the other campers is about 3 decades older than I am.

But one particular evening, when the girls and I were out paying respect to the sky, I realized what I love the most about my current living arrangement. It was 5 o'clock. People had already been congregating on their designated slabs for some time because as one man told me, "When you're retired, every day's either a weekend or a holiday, depending if you can buy beer." And as the crackly speakers began to play aloud for all to hear one of my very favorite songs, our National Anthem, there was a hush. Everyone I could see around me got up, removed their hats, faced the music and proudly placed their hand over their hearts (including my two little ladies) and I had an overwhelming wave of emotion. Pride...maybe. Appreciation...most definitely.

This is what I'll take with me in my heart and in my memory when my trailer park life is finished. I had the pleasure and honor of living (quite literally) right smack dab in the middle of the greatest generation. To my right and to my left. Up the roads and throughout the park. I looked over at the Vietnam Navy pilot in front of me and the Korean war hero across the street and next door the retired marine who I swear I hear, "oohrah," faintly every time we pass. I looked at the group of ladies who constantly give me understanding looks about this military lifestyle we have in common, what it's like to be a single mom most of the time and having a husband with whom you share 70/30 with Uncle Sam. (For those of you who aren't familiar with military life, Sam gets the 70 and you're prying the 30 out of his greedy fist more often than not.)

It was then, at this sunset that I saw these people for who they really were. These were the people who helped to preserve all that I adore about my United States and made the life that I most often times ungratefully enjoy now possible. These are the people who did the work without whining about what they weren't getting and without the sense of entitlement that I've grown to despise in my own generation. They went where they were called. They served. They sacrificed at a time when serving was unpopular in wars that would never be won. And they did this for the chance to be part of something greater than themselves. These are the people who display limps and war wounds and horrible memories of war like the medals of honor they are, ever grateful for the unique opportunity to have participated in everything wonderful that was and is America.

Yes, it's cramped at times. Yes, it's extremely difficult to shave my legs without contorting into some seriously advanced yoga positions. Yes, meal time preparation isn't quite what it was in the enormous kitchen I had gotten incredibly accustomed to. Yes, I do miss my stuff. And yes, I do prefer to live in an actual house. But without a doubt... These are the days to remember.