It’s the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the USA, and I’m surprised to report, it’s quiet here in the neighborhood. I live in one of those mini-communities commonly known as a trailer park. I hate that term because it conjures up images of dumpy trailer houses and fifth generation welfare-rats; which seems to devalue the quality of the experience. Not to say we don’t have dumpy trailer houses and fifth generation welfare rats, because we do, but as anyone who’s ever lived in a trailer park will tell you, it’s a unique experience and not everyone is unemployed.
Trailer parks are like little sub-communities where you can escape the larger community of whatever city or town you happen to be living in. When you drive into the park it’s like you just entered a new country. Leaving the hustle and bustle behind, you enter an oasis where everyone knows everyone else and everyone has their own story.
I moved here in 2009. Ending a very bad long-term relationship that resulted in a severe back injury for me, I came here as a “jumping off point,” someplace to be until I could figure out where I wanted to be. Now, seven years later, I understand why the neighbors laughed when I told them I would only be here for a year. We call this park “The Hellview” because you can move in, but you can never leave. (Hotel California reference, for those who don’t know that Eagles song…) The neighbor across the street moved in at a time of divorce “just for a year.” Sixteen years later, he’s still here. This is a common story here in the park, because you see, it’s actually kind of nice here.
Once you get past the fifty year old trailers with decaying skirting and rust stains down their sides, the Christmas decorations that stay up year round, and the unsupervised children who run wild through everyone’s yards, you discover that this is a world where the code of life is “live and let live.” If what you’re doing doesn’t disrupt what I’m doing, then I don’t care. And vice-versa, of course.
I like it here because I can have dogs. That’s hard to find in a rental these days. Two thirds of my neighbors have dogs as well, so if someone’s dog goes on a barking spree, no one complains because someday it might be their dog who is having a bad hair day. And sometimes I like to crank up the stereo so loud I can hear it outside while I putter in my flower-pot garden. No one complains because I don’t complain when they have an all-night party with bass-thumping music that rattles the coffee cups in my cupboard.
When I decided to put a fence around my yard, I expected lease wielding neighbors to come out of the woodwork to wave it in my face and remind me it’s a violation of my rental agreement to put up a fence. Instead, they took turns walking by to tell me how nice it looked and ask how much it cost, because now they want one too.
When I discovered I couldn’t get any TV channels because my house didn’t have an antenna, two of the neighbor guys stole one off the roof of one of the abandoned trailers and installed it on my roof. No questions asked. The landlord just laughed, shrugged, and said, “If I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.” He didn’t care.
So now, seven years later, here I sit on my freshly painted deck, (because I do something to spruce up the place every Spring), typing a blog and being surprised there aren’t any children running through my yard waving sparklers at my dogs. Which is a good thing, because India is terrified of fireworks. A fact I’ve been reminded of this past week as she has spent every evening trying to find new and creative ways to crawl inside my skin with me as everyone in the neighborhood has shown off their pyrotechnic skills (or lack thereof). Fortunately, Killer is unconcerned about the fireworks and snores through even the loudest ones, or I would be in trouble with two dogs quivering on my lap.
So what, you might ask, does all of this have to do with Independence Day? Well, here it is. Anyone who has ever left a long-term abusive relationship will tell you that one of the hardest parts about leaving is imagining how you’re going to survive. You’ve been put down and beat down to the point that you subconsciously believe they are right and you can’t make it on your own. In my case, I was the primary breadwinner who was paying all of the bills, and yet somehow, he had succeeded in making me feel like jumping out on my own was too scary and un-achievable. A concept that became even more believable when he broke my back in three places.
But, he was wrong. I have made it on my own, even with a broken back. I have two jobs and I am successfully pursuing a life-long dream and writing a fantasy adventure book series. Better yet, those books are getting great reviews on Amazon.com. I have achieved my independence despite all the obstacles. And maybe someday, those books will make it possible for me to quit my two jobs and write full time. And when that happens, I’ll probably still be living in the trailer park…because I like it here where everyone knows struggle and cheers one another on…