Trailer Parks and Other Pits of Despair

Image by The Paltry Sum. Northern California

Window to window in park-type trailers it’s impossible to have your privacy or co-exist without bumping into other people’s lives at close quarters. Immediately derided by anyone who knows you live there, yet you still have to pass tests just to gain entry to a community where you wonder how did these druggies and piss-artistes, the pill heads and junkies, these creeps and these death metal enthusiasts with a smart Dodge Challenger in the drive, but no food on the table, – ever pass the paper test of no convictions, no evictions, three references and deposits, alongside a smart enough trailer to pass muster that is not too old, or too ugly, and has everything up to date.

I wondered if they rolled out these barriers only to people they weren’t related to, or didn’t know, or didn’t like, and let in the rest of the riff raff, who let’s face it, has to live SOMEWHERE, but does it really have to be next door to me.

Yes…I am a closet snob. Well perhaps not snob, I just like my privacy. I like not being stared at and dislike the questions and maga flags waved in my face while they declare that they are throwing me out of what they see as the confines of the human race because, MEIN GOTT(i), I don’t sound right, and (ii) I swear they can smell something on me they do not trust. I run the world, they declare, I have life and success and money offered to me on a plate, while they suffer and struggle, earning the almighty dollar from shaking a bottle that used to hold mountain dew, but now holds a pseudoephedrine and sulphur stew.

We pulled in to a trailer park in Washington State, missing our back plate, our patchwork curtains, and bashed in back end, with walmart bag covered water heater innards and a years worth of grime on the outside of what passed as a home for me and mine. They asked a few questions, and with enough money waved before them, gave us a monthly space with electric and water, no shade and next door a mother and grown up son that lived with fifty cats and a bag of pills. We named this place “The Hole.”

The other side of the cats and pills shack was a family in a large 5th wheel trailer. A mother and father and a young boy who liked to punch other kids. He was also on pills, some kinda kiddy speed that was meant to calm him the heck down, but instead just made him a little bit strange and incomplete.

We could not sit outside without being in someone else’s front room, so tried to keep ourselves to ourselves. It proved impossible. People coagulate together and harden into groups and the Hole was trying to draw us in and set us in amber.

The cat-mother slashed her stomach one day to prove a point. It was superficial, but bled a lot. Her son didn’t take her pills again. A curtain of blood drenched her grey panties that poked up above her emaciated hips and wrinkled sixty year old belly. I stood there and half heartedly protested. The Hole was dragging the life outta me already. We used to sit together and string beads onto wire. She held my hand in her bony claws and told me about her life. I would pat her parchment skin and tell her that one day us women, us women who go to the river for water, who buy our family’s dinner on our own backs-destruction, who once lived and were free, once loved and danced and got grass stains on our asses listening to bands play songs we didn’t even enjoy, we women would win one day. “Life is a gamble, honey,” she would tell me, like she was giving me the secrets to the universe, and I would agree and give her a chip from the casino, giggling from the weed and the gin and the oxys she fed me from her loving motherly hands, like a baby bird, mouth open, begging for more more more.

The mother of the one punch boy was a kind woman, with hands big as hams, and a heart the size of a buffalo. She worked in the grocery store and would knock on my trailer door with trays of ground beef just on the turn, cartons of milk that were still good but out of date, limp carrots and potatoes with eyes in them that you could cut the green off and they would still be good.

These women would gather over buckets of water with the family’s smalls in them, scrubbing and gossiping: that man over there with the mustang…he no good, on the sex offender’s register, and that one, that one drinks with Indians. I felt like I was in some Western movie, but instead it was just small town America trailer park life. It hasn’t changed since those pioneers flooded the west. Tough women and useless men who feel they can act like fools if they bring home the bacon, or if they do not – it is all the same to them.

Billy grabbed my arm, staring at my pinned pupils as if he wanted to make a point out of them, squashing my cheeks between thumb and forefinger, a touch too roughly. “all drugs come to me,” he said.

I packed our bags. It was time to go, we were falling into the ebb and flow of life in the Hole, and that was not what I wanted, not what I wanted at all. Is it ever what anybody ever wants? Did Cat Mother, or One Punch Boy Mother want the lives they had? The only difference was that I was always happy to burn it all down and head for the road, and they always were tied to their surroundings by their heart strings and some sense of what should be and was always has been. I am adrift, and they are anchored.

As we drove down the road, Billy started yelling. I pulled the bag of percs and oxys, codeine and diet pills out of the bottom of my purse, and threw it at him. Cat Mother would have scratched his eyes out, they were her gift to me – a gift that said she knew how unbearable life was and could be and how she wanted me to have relief from the misery. I thought about slashing my belly in protest, but I am no Cat Woman. I got what I wanted: we were back on the road.

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