Tales of the Trailerhood

We lived in a trailer park and boy do we have stories.

MeldrumDesign_TalesofTrailerhood

Last week, Mike and I moved out of our trailer park. It was our home for 370 days and it defined our time in Texas, our first foray into tiny living. It’s a pretty weird thing to live in a trailer park unless you have to. I’m sure you’re wondering why the heck we would do that. But of course, it’s for the stories! Let me explain…

I could talk about the positives like the lush trees, stellar storm water management, or luxury pool and hot tub. I could talk about the negatives like the constant traffic noise (we’re next to a freeway) or wafts of poop-smell from neighboring sewer pipes. But in the end, our experience centered on the people.

The people we met at the RV Resort (yes dahling, it’s a resort) were some of the biggest characters we’ve ever known. They became fixtures in our lives; a tight community of nomads, never knowing who will be the next to leave nor who will arrive to take their place.

Jason

The day after we arrived, I had my first “incident.” Adjusting to a tiny house means several weeks of bumps and bruises. I used to gesticulating wildly and had the space to do so! Within a week my arms were covered in bruises and we had a pile of broken glasses and plates. But the worst event was when I fell out of the trailer. Yes, I fell out of the trailer.

The floor of a 5th wheel is about four feet off the ground. That day, I reached out to close the front door and completely forgot the top step. Time slowed and I felt myself falling, inch by inch. I turned around to grab whatever I could and managed a slippery grasp on the stair railing. (Built so people wouldn’t fall out of the trailer!) That grasp flipped me around so I landed, bum first, onto our “patio,” a concrete slab. Oooof! All the wind went out of me and I laid on the ground for a few seconds before hearing Jason, our next door neighbor.

Jason has a South African accent, faded after decades in the US. He ran over, offering his help, and we’ve been friends ever since. He’s friendly, funny, and frequently told stories of his time in the Marines. It’s pretty incredible how our friendship has lasted.

After the “incident,” he helped us all the time: rides to the airport, a generator when the power went out, doggy kisses from his sweet dog whenever we wanted them… he was always there at the right moment.

He moved away a few months ago, to San Diego! So when we decided to live in San Diego for the summer, we called Jason.

Last week, while visiting his daughter in Texas, he picked up our tiny house and drove it to California. Talk about being in the right place at the right time…

The Tribe

Then there’s Tim and Mikenzie. Founding members of what Tim likes to call our “tribe.” (< I tell him I don’t like that name but secretly I do.)

In our first month at the park, I noticed their Prius and knew I had to say hi. A Prius in Texas is like dainty flower in a sea of Oak trees. Then I saw Mikenzie out running, Tim out grilling, and they seemed to be younger than 40. Wait a minute: young, active people who care about the environment and like tasty food? Now I was nervous! These people seemed too cool for us!

One evening I spotted Mikenzie and a friend drinking wine on her patio. I marched over, introduced myself, listed all these reasons I thought we could be friends, and handed over a sticky note with my phone number. I told her to call me…

I didn’t hear from her for two weeks! I had trouble crossing the road without feeling rejected. BUT, eventually she did call. We went on a double date and the hours flew by. Within a couple months, we became the trailerhood tribe (along with a few honorary outsiders).

Mikenzie ran her photography business from her RV and we became each other’s sanity. When we started going crazy in our shoebox home office, we’d step out to vent to each other.

The four of us often had spontaneous Friday night hangouts or Sunday afternoons by the pool. When they moved away a few months ago, we might have cried.

No matter! We still got together frequently for board games in a hookah bar, floating the river, or dive bar hopping in Austin. It’s rare to find another couple that both Mike and I click with. Tim and Mikenzie will be lifelong friends.

Mario

It wasn’t just the residents, trailerhood staff were cool too!

About two weeks after we moved in, I got locked inside the RV. It was literally straight from my nightmares. I could have popped out one of the emergency windows but that would cost money to replace! (See mom, even when I’m panicked, I’m Scottish).

So I called the front office and calmly asked that they send someone down because I was stuck inside my trailer. The front desk lady sounded very confused but ten minutes later, Mario showed up. I passed him a screwdriver and he disassembled the whole lock. After 45 minutes and three almost panic attacks, I was out. Thank god for Mario! I could have kissed him! He saved me from a slow, pitiful death inside that shoebox; we will be friends forever.

The Pirates

But recently, we experienced something we’d been longing for ALL year. We hung out with Pirates.

To be clear, they’re not real, boat thieving, ransom demanding pirates. They’re the pirates of Call of Booty. This is not a joke. Facebook it. They are a group of people concentrated in Texas who like to dress up as Pirates and have kickass parties. Their biggest event is the Houston Renaissance Festival where they spend multiple weekends dressing up, drinking, and having drum circles. In their own words, “You don’t go to the festival for the turkey legs and jewelry stands, you go for the after party.” We had never heard of them before but now that we had, our curiosity was insatiable.

And guess what, the Master Quarters for Call of Booty was a trailer right there in our very RV resort. We’d seen their flag, we’d heard their drum circles, we wanted more than anything to party with these people.

Two months ago, Jeff and Julie became our neighbors. Turns out that they are also “pirates” and totally awesome people. We became quick friends (there’s a lot of that in nomad communities) and we finally got invited to a pirate party. Forty “pirates”, floating in their tubes, down the river. There was beer, water cannons, and much debauchery.

As usual, our mental picture did not match the reality. This was a group of normal people who liked to have fun, wear pirate hats, and yell chants about shipmates and booty. In the end, we liked our “tribe” better, but we’ll never forget our epic day on the river with a gang of pirates.

Sara & Family

For us, life in Texas centered around the trailerhood and our tiny house, but we also had to expand. We had to learn to live in a small, conservative town in Texas. If you don’t know already, I’m more of a big town, liberal kind of woman. No judgment! But man it was hard finding new systems to fit my life. The local yoga studio, Two Rivers Yoga, became my exercise and sanity check. That’s where I met Sara.

Sara and her husband met in the military. She knew what it was to be nomadic and she was the kindest, most helpful person I met in our new town. Once I met Sara, emails and invites started flowing in for bike rides, triathlons, and yoga hangouts. She showed me a side of New Braunfels I never would have found. I attended her Mysore classes whenever I could and we became friends. Our love of minimalism, outdoor sports, and mindfulness brought us close. When she and her husband were finally ready to remodel their house, she called me. Apparently she couldn’t find another minimalist-minded designer in New Braunfels. Surprise!

Over the next two months, we (Sara, her husband, and her two girls) redesigned their house. They were one of the most positive, easy-to-smile, active families I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Sara has reshaped my idea of small town living and homeschooling, which she did for her two wonderful girls.

Sweeter than bitter.

So, while the trailerhood and tiny living defined our time, our friends made it bearable, fun even! All these people and SO many others (shoutout to Clarisa, Hannah, Jean and John, Nick and Sara) gave us a home. And this is the ultimate consequence of nomadic living, we make all these wonderful friends, and then we have to leave. But instead of being sad, we look at the map. All the places we’ve lived, the close friends we have dotted all over the country! What lucky people we are to have friends all over the place, ready to offer shelter, a cold drink, and a smiling face. It’s more sweet than bitter.


And finally, here's a summary of my Facebook and Instagram posts, for my Aunty Carole who doesn't do social media :)

MeldrumDesign_TalesofTrailerhood
 My first tiny home design is going up in Escondido! Built by the fabulous Habitat Tiny Homes.

My first tiny home design is going up in Escondido! Built by the fabulous Habitat Tiny Homes.

 This wall is alive. Burger joint in Austin, TX.

This wall is alive. Burger joint in Austin, TX.

 Bottle caps = extra protection. Tiny houseshotgun house in New Orleans, LA.

Bottle caps = extra protection. Tiny houseshotgun house in New Orleans, LA.

 Oh New Orleans, you sexy beast, you.

Oh New Orleans, you sexy beast, you.

Office in a backpack! This is how I go to work.

Ashley Hopwood