Today started out fine. I got up a little early to spend a few minutes with my husband over coffee. Our dog, Coda split a toenail last week and it came off a day or two after I noticed it, so he’s been limping his ninety pound self around and it takes a little longer to get him to go up and down the stairs from the deck to the ground. But it’s all good, the toe is healing. The weather was good, a little overcast but it’s November. I hate this daylight savings thing. Hate, loathe and despise it. I had to wait until it was full light out in order to get my first job related thing done, because where I was heading, there was probably no electricity. I was also pretty sure there would be roaches, so I made sure I dressed appropriately, with my pant legs tucked into my socks. Tenants had been evicted, and where there’s an eviction there’s always some kind of infestation. Or worse. There’s worse? Oh, yeah, there’s worse.
Should I back up a little? I should probably back up a little. I might sound like a lunatic shortly otherwise. My name is Tracy. I’m fifty years old. I live in North Carolina, but I was born and raised in Connecticut, where I lived until just a few years ago. I grew up in an affluent little town on the New York state line where I attended the top public schools in the nation and didn’t see my first poor person until I was almost twenty years old. There were people like Robert Vaughn, David Cassidy, Giancarlo Esposito, the entire cast of As the World Turns wandering around Main Street when I was growing up. The town was founded by people like Colonel Knox who hung out with Mark Twain, Pierre Cartier and all sorts of “eccentric” folks with piles of wealth and breeding who had elegant estates – because people didn’t have “houses”, they had estates, and manors and things they called cottages that were bigger than most high schools. There was even a Revolutionary War battle fought in town and Benedict Arnold marched down Main Street. Or something like that. I do remember being tortured I don’t know how many times with field trips in school to see an old tavern that had a cannonball lodged in the outer wall.
Flash forward to the present, because I don’t live there anymore. I live in a trailer park now – well, a “mobile home community” as I generally refer to it. And don’t get me wrong, I’m happier here than I’ve ever been in my life but some days I wake up and ask myself how in the heck I got here.
I started working when I was sixteen years old. Aside from that first high school job in a grocery store, I worked in corporate America for thirty years. I hired, I fired, I ran IT departments, I wore nice clothes and had huge mahogany desks. I owned a house, I bought new cars, I took vacations.
Flash forward to the present again, because I don’t do any of that anymore. Not only do I live in a trailer park – well, a “mobile home community”, but I work here, too. There are actually thirteen parks owned by the property management company and I work in all of them. More specifically, most of the time the work I do is cleaning the vacant homes. Welcome to my glamorous life.
I’m married, by the way. My husband grew up in the same small Connecticut town. He was three years ahead of me in high school and I thought he was cute. So, twenty five years later I ran across him on Facebook. A year later we got married. He’s got a college education, has a degree in marketing, and now he lives in a trailer park – well, “mobile home community” and he does the maintenance and remodeling work on the same trailers I’m cleaning. He’s not sure how he wound up here, either.
In 2014 we were looking for a place to live, close to Charlotte where he was sure there would be some work for him. Personally, I just wanted to retire and write books. So we looked on Craig’s List, found a couple of places to check out and off we went. One of them was advertised as a Rent to Own mobile home. I thought it was a pretty cool idea, owning a little place of our own without a huge mortgage. We could pay the place off in just a couple of years and then live there for just the lot rent fee. Money was tight and the idea was pretty appealing. Until we got there. And saw the place. The park was nice enough, there were only a couple of trailers there and woods all around but it was small. And dark. And dirty. And needed painting at the very least.
I decided that I was just not ready to be A Trailer Person. I’d watched too many episodes of My Name is Earl and I couldn’t do it. So we moved into a rental house on the other side of town instead. It was a little dumpy and the neighborhood wasn’t great but it was a house. With a foundation and everything. We found out when the dust settled and the snow melted that we were in the ghetto. I had the distinct feeling that God wanted to humble me a little bit. I really had no idea how humble he wanted me to be.
A year later one of our neighbors, in the ghetto, wanted to move out and started looking on Craig’s List for something else. She found an ad for Rent to Own mobile homes. And she wanted to look at one. But she didn’t have a car. So, I offered to take her. We wound up on the other side of town, looking at a little trailer a park owned by the same company that owned the place we’d looked at the year before. I remember thinking about what a great sense of humor God must truly have. Our neighbor wanted to fill out an application on the place, so we drove one town over to their office and she took care of the application. In the meantime, I spied the cutest little trailer across from the office and by then… I was ready to humble myself just a little more and be… A Trailer Person. I went back into the office and took an application for myself and my husband.
Little did I know that my new living arrangement would lead me on the adventure of a lifetime. Or, something like that. Stay tuned for Chapter Two – The Adventures of Kenny the Cockroach.