I always find it offensive when people say "trailer trash," and "go back to your trailer park," etc., when they are trying to point out that a person is deemed worthless and ignorant and/or from a southern state. I'm actually glad this trend didn't start (or I didn't HEAR it) until I was older, as I would have had to unleash my acid tongue in the defense of trailer residents left and right.
Besides the stupid idea that all trailer residents are ignorant and unsavory, the assumption here is that everyone in a trailer is poor, right? And when did it become okay to make fun of the poor? For shame.
My Grandma Val lived in a trailer the whole time I was a kid, and it was one of the most fun places on earth. Her husband was long gone, and she was really proud to have this little affordable place of her own with a tiny green yard. She decorated every inch of the inside with all of her favorite things and color schemes, knick-knacks and pictures. The guest bedroom had wigs, makeup and junk jewelry that my sisters would enjoy when we spent the night, and there were always robes and nightgowns hanging on a door for us. You could name just about any object, and she had it somewhere---not like a pack-rat, but in a specific location, perhaps even in a labeled compartment. Games here. Blankets here. Photos here....My dream drawer in the kitchen held pens, markers, assorted paper and pads, pencils, erasers, rulers, stapler, tape, glue, paper-clips, clay and much more---it was a mini Office Depot. She used yard sales to pick up games, puzzles, books, and extra clothes, all for the sake of being able to pull out exactly what someone might need. "Need that?--Take it, it's yours. Just give me a kiss on my cheek."
She also kept a large supply of food/sodas onhand always for the chance of company. She'd fix sandwiches for the person who mowed the grass, cookies for the mailman, candy for the girl at the store, whatever. When my sisters and I would visit, she might spontaneously cook a pizza at 1 am (she was a night owl), and we'd still hear her up at dawn fixing breakfast. Having a cooked breakfast was cool enough (we had regular cold cereal at home), but it was the sheer amount of food and presentation that awed us. She prepared us each a grapefruit half, cutting loose each section of the fruit with a special knife so that we could pull it out with our tiny forks. Juice in special little flower glasses. Want pancakes and cereal and eggs and bacon and pizza and lasagne and a baloney sandwich for breakfast? Ok. Every day can be Thanksgiving.
She said she was never without a soda or a snack for anyone who dropped by, and she told me that even on her limited income there was no concern about handing out her last soda or beer or piece of bread. She said that the generosity is always rewarded in that somehow she's always able to replace what she's given out. Give your last dime and you'll find another dime. I've found this to be very true, and I never worry about giving too much.
Grandma Val has been gone for a dozen years, and her trailer was sold to someone else back then. When I visit my dad, sometimes I walk across the railroad tracks to look at her old trailer park and stare at her place a bit. It's been weird to think that someone else lives in there and that I'm no longer welcome, but I have to remember that the place is stripped of all her goodies---that every single thing I picture inside that trailer now exists in someone else's house, some of it in my own. But I still want to go stand in the yard. I want to go inside and look out a window and just feel like I'm there again.
Last week I visited my dad and rode my bike to the trailer park and realized I haven't been there in a year, maybe two. I felt really confused when I passed her place, as it seemed to be moved. I couldn't figure out which trailer was hers and why things looked so different, but I actually knew right away that her trailer was missing. This trashed out empty spot was her yard, and that upturned broken porch off in the distance used to be hers.
Before and after...
I sat there on my bike for a really long time trying to comprehend that this was the right place, and then I rode through the dangling gate and looked around. Most of the park really was a disaster now, full of actual trash and trailers that are sad with total neglect. Grandma's lot was empty, but the folks in trailers on either side were throwing their garbage in there, including an old plastic Christmas tree. The fence sags from people climbing over it, even though the gate stands open.
Ugh. Why can't her trailer just be gone?---that's enough of a punch in the neck. Why does the whole place have to go to crap as well? I know why. It's because you don't just lose grandmothers, you lose their houses too. Their houses are another living being, a lifelong companion, and the houses die someday too. Whole areas die. Everything dies. Ok.
Anyways... I don't think I'll go look at the trailer park again. It's really haunting to find her sidewalk and gate leading to nothingness. I'd rather stick to the version in my head, which shows our dog Buster at the gate, and Grandma waving from the porch. Her reading glasses are resting on an open tv guide, and late late shows are circled in ink. There are particular chips in glass jar for my dad because she knows he likes them, and there are extra sodas under her bed. There are fuzzy booties in a drawer in case our feet get cold, and she has an extra flashlight or a radio if I don't have one. We'll play Yahtzee or Wa-hoo later, and she's swear like a sailor, laugh heartily, and she'll cheat a little bit.