I live in a trailer park.
I'll give you a second to let that sink in. Go ahead. I'll be here.
Like I said, I live in a trailer park. It's called Meadow Brook Terrace Trailer Park, which sounds so much nicer than Circle-L Trailer Park, about three miles down the road, just after the Sunoco gas station. How can an L be a circle, anyway?
I don't know why in the world they named our trailer park "Meadow Brook." There are no meadows, unless you count that space where the Vasquez family got their panties in a twist and ripped their not-so-mobile home off it's foundations a couple years ago and the weeds have run amok. And I've looked everywhere for a brook and never found more than gutters that run when it rains. But, then again, the owner's wife--Miss Peggy--has what she likes to call an "artistic bent". Maybe she imagined the meadow and the brook.
Our trailer is gold. I don't know why trailers can be gold, since you never see real houses that are gold. But ours is. Gold siding on the bottom and off white on the top. This is better than the trailer three down from us. It is "coral and azure" which could also be called "pink and aqua". The owner ordered it, special, to match her Berretta. My sister calls it a Witchmobile. She's right, you know. And what kind of person orders their house to match their car? But that's Paulette for you.
Inside our gold trailer, there is a kitchen, a living room, a closet that is supposed to be a bedroom, a bathroom, and a bigger bedroom at the back. They all go in a line, off of one hall. I sleep in the closet that is supposed to be a bedroom. My parents sleep in the big bedroom, and my big sister sleeps on the couch in the living room when she isn't begging her friends, who have real houses, to let her sleep there. She says that she has friends because she bought a pair of jeans at the mall that cost $100 of her babysitting money. She wears them everyday and washes them every night. She says I don't have friends because I wear Faded Glory brand clothes that my mom buys me on the clearance racks at Walmart, so I'm always wearing sweaters in the summer and shorts in the winter. It's a vicious cycle, but I've accepted it.
Rose, my sister, had the little bedroom originally, and I had the couch, but when she started sleeping away from home more nights than not, my parents said I could have it. When they told her, she just shrugged and told me not to touch her Orlando Bloom poster on the wall or her collection of perfume on the shelf. I did pretty well, considering the temptation, but every once in awhile I did allow myself a spritz of "Sunflowers."
My mother is a nurse. Doesn't that sound like a noble profession? One that you would be proud to have your mother be? Well, I am. I tell people who will pay any attention at all that my mother is a nurse at East Central Medical Center. She wears navy blue scrubs and a name tag with stars on it.
My father is a teacher. It is also a noble profession. But it's also why we live in a trailer park. He teaches algebra to middle school students, driver's education at 4:00 in the morning at the high school, and sorts cherries in the summer. I don't usually tell people about the cherries.
And me, well, I ride the bus every day to and from school. And every day I get off the bus with a big pack of other kids, just trying to blend in, at one of the local neighborhoods. I watch them scatter to their brick and stucco homes, with shade trees out front and pansies planted around the mailbox. I wander through different streets, every day, and pick a different house that I would like to buy. Then I walk home. Usually a mile or two. But I promised my mom never to cross any busy highways, like the 74, and get squashed. No one ever asked me to go home with them, to listen to music or watch a movie. No one seemed to notice that I got off at different stops.
But I didn't know that someone was watching, and that my life was about to change--for the better--much sooner than I knew.