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It's interesting to look at your life, past to present, and think: "It has all led up to this...." And then wonder where it will lead to next.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Home Sweet Mobile Home

There are few things made as poorly as a mobile home. Poorly designed, poorly insulated, poorly cared for. About the only thing they are good for is being able to move them easily from one place to another. I guess that was the intent. But c'mon, long, thin boxes are simply not ideal living spaces. Hot in the summer with small and never enough windows. Cold in the winter as heat simply does not flow well in a rectangle (not to mention the heat vents are never installed in the proper locations, nor is the thermostat). Did you know that there are actually special manufacturers who make things like faucet knobs, shower heads, etc. specifically for mobile homes? Specifically to not work right. This home is never short of a leaky faucet. Yes, I dislike mobile homes. And yet this is my home.

Aaron and I moved into our beloved (insert sarcasm here) mobile home just over two years ago. We found it on craigslist and though not exactly ecstatic over the fact that it was a mobile home, we were mostly interested in the huge shop on the property that was rented at a very reasonable price (something we've learned is very hard to find). We needed a shop and the only criteria on our list for a home was cheap and livable. Done. It may surprise you but in the past I was actually quite optimistic when it came to prospective homes (not to worry, I have been cured of that, but don't let me get ahead of myself). When I first stepped into the trailer I was met with dingy floors, ceiling black from smoke, and a very peculiar odor (mixture of old house, cigarette smoke, and cat pee). The black ceiling hung much lower than I was used to and I got to feeling as though I were in a  hobbit home as I walked the perimeter taking it all in. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, the "good" at that point was purely theoretical, but I saw every potential I possibly could and used it to convince myself I could make it work. And convince I did.

Fast forward one year. The ceiling has been painted, and so have some of the walls, but bright red trim painted by the previous tenants still lines our bedroom and our bathroom still glows an ominous yellow. The floors at this point are driving me insane. They look like someone went to various construction sites picking up leftover tiles, then poured cement and went to town. Oh wait, I am pretty sure that is exactly what happened. The floors are uneven, unmatching tile after unmatching tile scattered throughout the house, the only relief is the wooden floors in our bedrooms. The concrete and tile make for excruciatingly cold floors in the winter, and because of the rough concrete that separates the tiles our socks don't even last us a season without numerous holes appearing. It's maddening to go through a huge basket of socks, most of which were just bought a few months before, and find that they are almost all filled with holes. Maddening! Oh and did I mention how impossible these floors are to clean? I can't tell you how many mops I've destroyed in my desperate efforts. Speaking of concrete, the previous owner of this home--who did most of the modifications that make it so unique--had some strange fascination with concrete. If our floors were not proof enough, he also made our bathroom sink out of cement, our plastic tub is surrounded by cement, our fireplace is cement (that one makes most sense even though it still looks random), there are two cement dividers in our dining room-kitchen area, and a strange cavern-like cement space behind but also attached to our house with a cement bench and a random half-finished cement staircase leading up the mountainside to no particular destination. I'd really like to see someone try to move this mobile home. I think I'd even set up a lawn chair and help myself to some popcorn and a coke. That, my friends, would be entertainment.

Fast forward yet another year. I have given up on my floors. I may still sweep and mop (giving up completely is not really an option), but have long given up on ever expecting them to actually look clean, or even pass the wipe-to-the-floor test (the wipe will always come up brown--no exceptions). I have finally painted the red trim white, and my room and bathroom are now both a pleasant brown (the kind that makes you want to read a book or go to sleep). Oh, something I forgot to mention that was noticed long before my second year here. Despite the solidness of the floors, the walls are unbelievably thin. Thin like don't hang anything too heavy-- no wall shelves or heavy art please! And definitely don't throw your dog into one (what can I say, she's never nipped at anyone since)! That is how you end up with a hole. One that reveals what we're dealing with. Two millimeters max. No exaggeration. An entire wall has already been repaired by previous tenants (I wonder what they threw?) with two big, thick sheets of plywood. My landlord refuses to let us paint it (It was so expensive and it matches the cabinets so nicely--what??), so we just have a random half of a wall that is naked wood while the rest is painted. Even with all the random and unattractive qualities of this home, the thing that frustrates me the most? Mice. Well, mice and ants. They aren't here all year round (that would be positively unbearable), they come and go. We set out traps and we catch them and they disappear for awhile, but the woods around us provide a never-ending supply of uninvited little guests. The mice have long ago chewed several holes in the walls, providing easy access to our home from beneath it and throughout it. And why not? The walls hold the consistency of crackers. Maybe they taste like them too. We try to fix the holes as we find them, but it's never long before they return. Gaping at us. Mocking us. And the ants? They're almost as bad. There is a constant trail of them. Never ending. Sometimes I find pleasure in squishing them with my thumb, one by one, or spraying their trail with bleach and wiping them out with a paper towel. In the end my efforts are futile.

So why stay? I've asked myself that question countless times. The truth is, I can't imagine living anywhere else. It's not the mobile home. I could burn this house to the ground with a single match and quite possibly hold no regret. It's everything else. I love living right where my husband works and the in-and-out traffic that comes with that. I love that the neighborhood kids come to play (and tell me what a nice house I have--that kinda stings). And that no one in this neighborhood is ever trying to "keep up with the Jones'". I love the creek that runs below us, and the mountain that rises behind us. I love feeling like I'm in the country, but being able to drive to town in minutes. Most of all I love that when I pull up my drive way I know I'm coming home. Home. It's a feeling that makes you want to sigh. The good kind.


Caitlin said...

I love you attitude, and as always, your writing. I've just discovered that Western North Carolina is home to me too, I still don't have a specific house that I consider home, but the feeling I got when I realized where I belong was incredible.
And I'm coming home one month from today!


Breka said...

Aw Faith, this is a sweet bit of writing (in many ways). So much of what you said rings true to my current 'home'...my housemate and I have decided that our trailer could only have been designed and decorated by people who were expelled from design school and had a grudge against the world. And also with old, crazy ladies in mind. And people who never planned on using the sink. Or the oven. Or the heating. Or the...yeah.