September 25, 2019 – Joemma Beach State Park – Gig Harbor, WA
Sitting here in the trailer at an actual table, typing my blog and drinking coffee makes me realize how much I’ve missed the small comforts of home, especially now that the weather has gotten cold and rainy. It’s nice having a roof over our head that doesn’t leak, a place to eat meals together, a base to come home to. It’s a work in progress and I’ve enjoyed watching it evolve. When we bought the shabby old 4’ x 8’ plywood farm trailer for $150 on OfferUp, we saw it simply as a vehicle for hauling our stuff; it was accumulating to the point where it would no longer fit on the small rack we carried in back of the pickup.
The roof was Charlie’s idea. We met her at the campground in Anacortes, and the small, energetic army veteran was full of them. We hadn’t intended to get such a big camper top, but it was free so we couldn’t turn it down. Not only did we have a roof to protect us, but now we had windows to let in light. It hung over nearly a foot on both sides of the trailer, but I could see Brent’s mind working overtime. We could use it to our advantage by extending the sides of the trailer out to get the inside shelving we needed without taking away from the 4 feet of space inside.
I don’t expect perfection from Brent, but he expects it from himself. He worked for many years as a finish carpenter and is his own harshest critic. I don’t have the patience for this kind of work. I slapped paint on the house in Italy without sanding the old paint off and of course it peeled off way earlier than it should have. He can sand for what seems an eternity until the surface of the plywood is as smooth as glass. I’m the finisher—I love to paint and stain.
Brent and I are always throwing around new ideas, but I wasn’t happy yesterday when he brought up the possibility of getting his shoulder surgery done here in Washington instead of Arizona. I understand why—he already has a doctor here, one that he trusts, and change can be a scary thing. But major surgery means recuperation, and how can he rest when we’re on the road?
“I’ll just do everything with one hand,” he replied when I questioned his sanity.
“How can you load heavy boxes with one hand? Not to mention all the stuff we need to do once we get to Arizona. I thought we both agreed to wait, and now you’re talking to a surgeon about getting it done here? I told you a couple of weeks ago that I’d bought a ticket to Hawaii in mid-October, so we have to be in Arizona by then.” I was in Hawaii for my granddaughter Eris’s birth and I’ve never missed a birthday since. I knew Brent wanted to come as well, and I was already trying to figure out how to get around the Loki issue. I couldn’t afford tickets for either of us, but I’d think about paying my credit card off later even if it meant getting a job for a few months in Arizona. If we were considering moving to Hawaii, now was a good chance to see if Brent would like it.
Our neighbors pulled out yesterday, along with their four kids, and we both breathed a sigh of relief. Cam and Kelly were from the Pacific Northwest, but they’d tried to make a go of it in Alaska for six months. Jobs fell through, and they moved back to friends and family, apparently with little cash. Cam found a job here as a framer, and they were biding time until his first paycheck came in and they could rent an apartment. She was a spitfire of a woman, full of energy—that first day, she brought over extra food they’d gotten from the food bank. He was kind, with more than enough patience to make up for her lack. Four kids, all pre-school age, kept them busy from dawn to dusk. The two boys came from another marriage, but the twin girls were theirs. It took me a while to realize that the two-year-olds were indeed separate entities—they looked identical, and they both screamed non-stop from sunrise to sundown. When I say “scream” I mean it literally. It was a high-pitched, shrieking noise that not even a cranked-up stereo could muffle. Of course, you can’t just give 2-year old toddlers free reign to explore the park, so they put together a makeshift corral with sheets of plywood and, judging by the noise, the two girls hated it.
Fortunately, Cam and Kelly were gone for most of the day. She’d drive him to his job, then hang around till he got off in the evening. That last day, before they pulled out, Cam came over to say goodbye.
“Sorry for all the noise,” he apologized. “The kids are teething, and there’s nothing we can do to pacify them.” I thought that was kind of him, given the fact that we’d made a lot of our own noise while renovating the trailer.
Though I long to reach Arizona, like Brent with his surgery, I’m wary as well. The other day I reflected on the impending move, and fear raised its ugly head. We’ve been nomads for so long, I can’t imagine living any other way, though I do want to settle down for a bit. But do I really want to live in the Arizona desert, away from the ocean, away from civilization? Suppose Brent doesn’t like my friends and neighbors? Suppose they don’t like him? What about medical care? Suppose I’m bitten by a rattlesnake or suffer a heart attack? I remember my friend telling me of her neighbor who had to be evacuated by helicopter to Tucson, or was it Phoenix? Either way, if time was of the essence, I could be dead before I reached the hospital. I’m not getting any younger and neither is Brent.
But I’m sure, like the many changes I’ve made in my life, that things will work out in the end—and if they don’t, I will have learned so much along the way. It’s easier when you’re an adult—at least you have some control over your destiny. At the age of 14, my dad packed up and moved us all from Canada to the States (Philadelphia). Initially, I was excited. This was a country where everything was happening—there were movie stars, rock stars, endless possibilities for cool boyfriends. Then reality set in, and I realized I’d probably never see my best friend again. Sure, we could exchange letters, but who could I confide in every day?
Moving to Philadelphia was a culture shock. At first, I was struck by how friendly everyone was. They all said “hi, how are you?” on the streets and in school, but it was a superficial friendliness. Making actual friends was something different entirely. What were my parents thinking? They had dumped me into what was probably the most preppy high school in existence. Though there were no prescribed uniforms, the girls all dressed alike—pleated skirts, knee socks, penny loafers, and pastel shirts buttoned to the neck, held in place at the collar by round, broaches embossed with their initials. Many years earlier, I’d rebelled against my mom for sewing my sister and I identical dresses, so you can imagine I wasn’t pleased with the situation. By my senior year, I’d taken up with the intellectual, nerdy crowd, getting high after school and trying acid for the first time.
But there’s a reason for everything and, if I hadn’t moved to the States my life would have been drastically different. Tomorrow we’ll be camping out with my son and granddaughter, and I’ll have the opportunity to celebrate her birthday before we leave. My next post should (hopefully) see us on the road.