I grew up in a small town. The kind that didn’t have it’s first traffic light until I was away in college. The kind that had only one grocery store. The kind with graduating classes of 90-some students. The kind where people gathered for a day of shucking before the annual corn dinner.
I grew up in a neighborhood that may as well have been a trailer park it was so full of mobile homes. My family lived in an avacado green 1 bed 1 bath singlewide that my dad built an addition onto so we could have a living room and extra bedroom. The summer I turned 7, we moved one lot over where we had built a simple albeit real house. It fit into the overall neighborhood scheme of things well enough that as a teenager I had a hard time convincing the census lady it wasn’t a doublewide.
By the time I was old enough to consider my life’s goals, they pretty much boiled down to this: to go to college far far away so I would never have the chance to be stuck there living in a doublewide chasing after my five squallering children, one baby always on my hip, always barefoot. Because I was more cultured and better than all that and I would make something of myself. Besides, my mom had forbidden me to stay in the same state after I graduated beacause it was the one time in life I could go anywhere do anything she said. So just after my 18th birthday I packed my bags to travel 3,000 miles east without looking back.
I grew and flourished, and became confident in the bigger world outside my quiet small town girl shell. But that’s not the point really. The point is that God doesn’t forget even small things. He loves to do the humility thing. He has a funny way of bringing things full circle.
17 years later still 3,000 miles away I’m chasing my four squalling-hollering kids around 924 square feet of singlewide home and smaller than a postage stamp yard. One baby always on my hip. Always barefoot. In a trailer park. I didn’t even get the doublewide plus one kid upgrade of my high school rant. Because I’m not more cultured or better than all that and what is made of myself is more precious than my prideful measures. Someone asked me recently about where we live. He felt sorry for me really.
I’m not an ounce sorry for myself or my kids or my hard working husband. I love my neighborhood. It’s such a gift. I wanted to live somewhere with a playground, a pool, and kids that my kids could play with. I never thought that place would be this place but it is. Trailer parks have a bad rap for harboring the “trash” of humanity. I know. People who visit always tell me how peaceful and quiet it feels here. My next door neighbor sent her daughter over with the most delicious chicken soup and a fuzzy blanket after I had my baby. My kids have played away sunny summer days with the kids on our street. I’m unnatturally and deeply content. And when we move, because we will one of these days, I’ll miss it here. I may not miss the sketchy made sketchier by four kids carpet, or the roaches we can’t seem to kill completely off but try to pretend don’t exist, or the particle board cabinetry that’s peeling on the edges but it’s no trade for how effortlessly grateful I feel or how I laugh at the way God works or what my neighbors have taught me about over the top hospitality.
Dear snobby highschool me: it’s not that bad, the running around – bunch of kids – baby on hip – barefoot – not even a doublewide life, not that bad at all. With all my love from the trailer park! xoxo