Thursday, July 7, 2011
Crossing Over Into A Trailer Park
This is an amazingly noisy campground.
We're in Wasilla, AK. And it's 10:30 p.m. (still sunny). And I see (and hear) kids playing chase and dress-up, a fellow toot toot toots on his harmonica, fireworks explode in the background, dogs bark, guys chat, more kids scream, guys laugh ... Man!
What a noisy place!
Our dogs need to go for a walk. So I guess we won't disturb anyone's peace if we do it now. At 10:30 at night. We leash them up, hop out and walk around.
What we find, in addition to a wide-awake neighborhood, is stuff. Tons of scattered stuff. Not really trash. But, well, sort of trashy stuff. One motorhome (an old, beat-up guy), shares its space with a mishapen freezer (a cord snakes through a hole in the window screen), a scooter and a pile of recycled wood (intended, I'm sure, to be a porch one day).
Toys, toys and more toys surround other trailers, as do dog cages, plastic tubing, wobbly gas grills, metal parts and aluminum siding. Blankets cover most window. A dog barks at us. Then pokes his head out one of those blanket-covered windows. And barks at us again.
"Conor's House" (see pic) doubles as a trailer and art easel for the young lad, who obviously shares love with his mom.
We realize as we walk that we've stumbled upon a different life.
We are camped in a trailer park. A permanent neighborhood where people cram their lives into rectangles. It's one of those places. The kind I've never been in.
We keep on walking and after covering the circuit, climb back into our little rectangle and feel better. This is our place, in here, not out there, where life differs greatly from ours.
We settle in for the evening, delayed by the midnight sun. And now the harmonica guy strums a guitar. And the kids play keep-away with a hose. And it's near midnight. When the dad comes home next door.
We met him earlier. He's the park handyman and works as a bar bouncer most nights. When he pulls up in a rattle-trap truck, his kids (five of them) run up to greet him yelling "Daddy's home!" He hugs, then hushes them. "Use your night voices, kids!" he stage whispers. Simultaneously, his wife climbs out of their box and plows through the kids for her hug.
Then, the gang sets out on a project together. They spend the next 30 minutes, in quiet construction, building a canvas tent. A big one. For the kids to sleep in that night. They've been waiting. For dad. To come home to put up the tent. And he jumps right in to the project without complaint. Without begging for time alone. Without reaching for a cool drink, an easy chair.
He leaps right into the family and they leap right back. They talk in whispers. They laugh in whispers.
Life is good, I realize. And I'll bet when those kids are adults, they'll look back at life in the trailer park as good. As theirs. Warmed by the fun times and love they received tucked alongside dog pens, piles of recycled wood, scattered toys and, of course, "Conor's House."