Guest Post by Rebecca Knabe
March 2010 was a bad month for me. My husband was unemployed. It had been exactly 20 years since my beloved mother’s death. My house had been broken into. They stole my money and my car. And to top it all off, my husband and I abruptly and unexpectedly separated. I was physically, emotionally, and economically spent. Yes, that month was a stinker!
I was working full time, but still could not afford to stay where I was living. I have a big dog, Cassi, and the thought of moving into an apartment with her made me want to stick my head in the sand. What was I going to do?
My good friends, James and Tanille had recently downsized into a small trailer that they had beautifully renovated from the ground up. Tanille’s parents had done the same thing a year or two before them. I loved both their homes, and knew that this was my answer.
The timing was perfect – a 1958 pink (yes, pink!) single-wide trailer was for sale in their little trailer park for $5,000. It was hideous! Dark brown paneling, stained and ripped flooring, chipped tub and sinks, cracked countertops, disastrous lighting…. It was perfect!
I had two weeks to make this 450 square foot aluminum tube livable. My wonderful friends helped me around the clock – sorting, organizing and selling my things, painting every interior surface of the trailer, replacing all the flooring, and moving me in.
For a while Cassi and I lived in denial. She howled all day while I was at work, and I avoided giving anyone my address. When asked where I live, I would say, “Reno.” Prompted further, I would say, “Downtownish.”
For the next several months Cassi and I, and the pink trailer began to heal. I hung new lighting and installed new fixtures. I grieved and mourned my old life. Countertops and sinks were replaced. I remembered that I liked to live with just my pup and if we wanted to lie around and eat popsicles all day, no one cared. I organized and decorated and added finishing touches.
Cassi and I took up running, and ran till our feet hurt. I learned to live simply, and embrace a small space. I mended my heart through the therapy of friendship. I built a fence and planted some flowers. I made the decision to look to the future with hope and joy.
It’s not always easy living in a trailer, and in a trailer park. There is a stigma attached that only a certain type of person ends up there. And I have neighbors to prove that is true. But I also have neighbors who really care about their home, and make it beautiful. And a sense of humor helps. Now, when asked where I live, I say, “A pink trailer in the ghetto.” People awkwardly chuckle in response, but the moment I bring them inside my home it’s always the same reaction – “Wow! I can’t believe this is a trailer!” I love my trailer. It’s exactly how I envisioned it. I would not have been able to afford the changes I have made if it was a larger space. The size of my home forces me to live a simple life, unencumbered by too many unnecessary things. My life isn’t perfect. The pink trailer and I are still on the mend, but Cassi and I are very happy.