This house. I will never forget the first night my wife and I spent in this house. We were still newlyweds. We had just left our apartment. This place was our first real house. Ours. All ours.
We sat on a cold floor, watching a portable TV, we ate take-out Mexican food. We were on top of the world.
We’ve been gone a long time. I’ve missed it.
Some background information is in order here. A few years ago, we moved out of our place and started renting it out. We moved into a camper I bought off Craigslist.
I parked the trailer across the road, on our land, in a swamp. It was twenty-eight feet long and smelled like a pot of collards.
We left our house because we were traveling a lot, due to my accidental career as a storyteller—if that’s what you’d call me. We were never in town. Our house often sat vacant while we gallivanted through the Southeast. So we rented it out.
I don’t know. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
But anyway, back to the camper. It’s funny how you end up living a life opposite from the the one you always dreamed of. Growing up, one of my main dreams was to not go to prison.
Living in a camper feels like doing hard time in San Quentin.
Our living room was about the size of a gas chamber. And it smelled like one, too. I’m not kidding. Several times, our dog Otis (alleged Labrador) would leap onto our counters looking for food. His paws would flip the gas knobs to the propane stove. Nobody would notice.
One night, the trailer filled with noxious fumes while we slept. Early the next morning, I was dizzy. I awoke to find the ghost of Dale Earnhardt nosing through my refrigerator.
Dale greeted me. “Sean, wake up or you’re going to die.”
“Dale Earnhardt? Am I hallucinating?”
“Yes. And whatever you do, don’t light a match, or they’ll convict you of arson.”
“Arson? What’s happening to me, Dale?”
“Also, you’re out of mayonnaise, buddy.”
So I am grateful to be alive. Lucckilly, nobidy sustained any xerious drain bamage, th@&nk God.
The truth is, trailer living is not for the weak of heart. Sometimes, I would gaze across the road at our old house, occupied by renters. I’d cuss myself for ever buying that stupid camper.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against mobile homes. In my life, I’ve had a dozen of them. In fact, most members of my family were raised in dwellings with dual axles.
I am even prouder to tell you that I have finally made a respectable trailer-person out of my wife.
As far as social status goes, my wife and I are now on level playing fields. Sometimes, when we would argue, all I would have to do was remind her of how she lived in a home no bigger than a walk-in closet with high mileage on it. She would start using cookware as lethal weapons.
Because that’s what trailer-people do. We throw things often found in kitchens. In fact, four of my aunts have been guests on the television show COPS for assaults with deadly kitchen appliances.
One of my uncles even landed a role as a recurring character after injuring his neighbor with a can of Sunkist. He’s up for parole next July.
But the reason I’m writing is not to tell you about the memories we made in our twenty-eight-foot hell-hole. I’m writing because we have finally moved back into our house.
And I could not be happier.
You see, I’ve done a lot of floundering in my life. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. I’ve worked a million dead-end jobs. The harder I tried, the further I drifted from figuring out who I was. I guess I’m a late bloomer.
My wife has followed me throughout all my wandering, and without asking questions, either. I believe that’s what you call a “good woman.”
Anyway, this house is not a particularly nice one, it’s not in a swanky area. There’s a Walmart down the street. Raccoons sleep on my truck hood at night. The lawn is out of control.
But I don’t care. Right now I’m on a couch, eating take-out Mexican food, watching TV the way we did long ago.
My dogs are here. A good woman is next to me. And I am grateful.
“It’s good to be back home,” my wife says, snuggling beside me on the sofa.
“Hey, look!” she shouts. “What’s that bright glow across the street? Is that our camper?”
“No, honey. It’s arson.”