I noticed him when we moved to this new patch of rented stone driveway. The old man lived across the pavement. Every morning I would see him, hose in one hand, other hand in his pocket, watering his tiny patch of thirsty grass, watching the morning sun
, the birds flitting about, or just watching inwards, somewhere in his mind
. I would wave occasionally. I never spoke much. I didn't want to interrupt his morning ritual
Then one day he was gone. He wasn't there and it felt odd. not right. something out of place. Two days later I found out he had been missed by others as well and a park friend checked his camper to find him no longer living, heart attack is suspected.
His truck disappeared that day. His camper remained there, his patch of grass slowly turning brown with each day, drying up and fading away. A few weeks later his camper disappeared. I noticed the empty stone driveway immediately. One day later a new camper filled the spot. A new couple, another neighbor. All I can see at the moment is that brown patch of grass thirsty for attention.
I wonder if it misses him like I do.
"You can take my picture if you want!"
The woman strikes a pose. I don't snap the shot. I was trying to capture my 13 year old with her young babysitting charge straddling her right hip, when three women walk by.
"No really, I don't mind at all"
She throws her arms around her two friends.
My daughter is frazzled by the three little ones running about her knees. She has been lamenting to me that I don't understand how hard it is to keep them entertained and happy. I have to smile inside. I need to capture this moment so I can show it to her when she has her own daughter and remind her how amused I was.
"How about this pose?"
The woman again trying to divert my attention. I should just snap the shot, make her happy, and be done with it, but I don't.
"Do you want my autograph?"
She laughs with her friends, I smile, catch the moment of my daughter looking her most determined with the kids, say goodbye and start heading away. I don't like being forced into things. I had on my stubborn hat on that day.
Later, the woman's friend came up to me.
"You should have taken her picture. Don't you know you were in the presence of somebody famous?"
I have to think, no.
"She played the young girl on Eight is Enough. She's an actress. You missed your opportunity."
I had spoken to the woman briefly before, walking about. No I didn't recognize her. She was just another woman in the park community.There are several from the entertainment industry living here.
Last week I got an email from a friend on the east coast asking if I knew the woman who had died in her camper. He heard about it on the news. I didn't even know she had gone or from what.
She needed me to take her picture. She needed me to recognize her. I didn't even know her name.
I did miss my opportunity.
are here, blocking off a section.
"What's going on?"
My son says that someone has flipped out and is shooting a gun into a pillow. He says this as if talking about having oatmeal for breakfast.
The police are here often, usually breaking up domestic arguments. They are more noticeable here because of the close quarters. Many people packed into a small space. Overcrowded rat experiments pop into mind. Not surprising that people buckle under the stress. It does not surprise me anymore when they come in. I must be becoming hardened to it.
I was blissfully unaware of firearms in this place.
Two hours later, the man is in custody, his firearm taken away. Forgotten by most within a day. As if it never occurred.
my false sense of security is shattered.
There is a sense of the impermance
here. Neighbors come and go. Transient
. I have formed loose associations with people from Oregon, Michigan, Louisiana
, Tennessee, Florida.....People from all over. Here for a month or two and then they move on. No forwarding address. We chat for a time in the hot tub
, in the pool
, over laundry
. No closeness for we know it will not last. Rapid change. One can not making lasting ties here. There is not enough time.
I soak up as much as I can. I listen to the accents. The memories of these people, young and old. Their thoughts on the future. So many ideas, so many opinions. I grab what I can.
There is no deep lasting connection, but it is something.
It is summer, the tent cities spring up in the field. French
fills the air. Many french students staying for a week or two before moving on to the next location in their travels around America
. They keep to themselve mostly these teens. This is just a place to rest their heads at night. They have so much to do, so much to see
. I remember travels as a teen, soaking up the world
. I smile for them. They are lucky.
She sits outside sipping her iced tea. She has arranged a lovely garden for herself and her husband. They are retired but are no snowbirds
. They stay here year round, settled
, quite content
in their cozy camper. A canopy is set up. Potted plants surround the camper on the driveway, on the little grass patch. stepping stones with ivy dot the grass so they do not step on it, not wanting to disturb the greenness that they have. Hummingbird feeders hang from the awning. Birds are constantly flitting around it. Little footlights outline their space. Bright colored flags adorn the edges, transparent shade screen block out the sun. wrought iron chairs and a table sit outside. For such a small space, there is much packed. It all flows together. I would not be surprised if one day I find she has placed a waterfall. It is serene. She sips her tea
, eyes closed, content. This is the life she has chosen.
I walk by every day, comforted in the one thing that has not changed since I have arrived.
I am pleased to see them. The hippy
couple is back. That is what they are to me anyway. They lived near us when we first moved here. Very polite, very open, very happy to share their ideas. She is a performance artist
, he a visual artist
. They disappeared four months back. The campground lost a little sparkle
. They are back for a few days. My son has them put a henna tattoo
on his back. He is quite pleased we are allowing it. I am quite pleased for the conversation. I hear of their travels, across the country one more time. They have chosen to move to Hawaii. To live off their art and make a go of it on the beach. They are in their twenties, quite excited.
"You have to do what you love in order to be happy. The rest is just money. What good is money if you hate what you do?"
What good is it, indeed.
Do not tell me that trailer parks are just white trash
and snow birds
. Live in one for a year and then speak to me what you know of trailer park
s. They are an ever changing flowing community
. There are poor people here, there are rich people here. There are permanent people here, there are the floaters. Huge campers with slide outs, large spaces for those content on making this their home. Smaller trailers as well, side by side
,even those "Rent America" trailers that fly by for a week at a time with new families fresh on their first camping trip. Some stay for the cheapness. Some stay for the simple way of living. Then there are those that stay for a time before moving on, waiting in limbo
. A stopping ground
. Yet somehow we manage to hold on to community, transient
though it is.
It is something. For the moment, it is home.