The Silver Mother Diaries: episode 1
Wednesday February 27th
Two weeks have passed since I moved into my tiny house, which is in fact a trailer, that we (my dog and I) are fooling ourselves into believing is a tiny house. Tiny houses are what you see in a book like Cabin Porn, or Apartment Therapy, small wood structures along a creek, one room, with some very chic ceramics, plants and macramé hangings.
Trailers are a slightly different beast.
The trailer I am now living in is a 1976 Airstream Land Yacht. It’s an 18 footer, and the owners, my friends, fully gutted the thing and renovated it over the past six months. They’re still renovating it. Right now, as I write this, I can hear one of them trying to figure out the plumbing, outside, in 28 degree weather, hammering and doing some sort of digging.
In short, it’s lovely. And my hope is that it will become lovelier and I will adjust to living in about 500 square feet. I keep telling friends and coworkers that it will be what I call “design blog worthy.” Yes, this is all very glamorous and cool in my head and theirs too, but most cool things come with sobering realities, and I have began to grapple with mine and the trailer’s, daily. The basic comforts are provided -- shelter, a bed, electricity and a small kitchen. I left out a few important ones – a bathroom, plumbing, running water, and heat. Those things are on the way, but I’ve spent almost three weeks without them. Sobering? Yes. Freezing cold? Definitely. We’ll get to all this a bit later.
A year ago, I found myself packing up boxes, Frasier reruns keeping me company in the background. I was leaving a home I had known for three years, and a partner I had known and loved for four. The writer Cheryl Strayed made a comment one time that I’ll never forget while she was talking about her book, Wild. She said that she had to break her own heart in her relationship in order to move on and start her journey of discovery and healing on the Pacific Crest Trail, the story we know as Wild. She had to break her own heart. It rang clear as a bell. I was still in my relationship when I heard her say this, and I knew that that was what I was going to have to do. No, I didn’t hike the PCT. And breaking my own heart was much more than just that. I broke his as well. The truth of it all is that we had been broken for a long time, traumas and constant communication breakdowns had become our pattern those last two years. Short weekend trips to the coast or the woods to try and salvage what we had, or reignite a spark were mere band aids that patched us up for a bit before we broke down again. It was a painful time for us both. We hurt each other, we didn’t understand each other, but we didn’t know how to let go. I guess that’s what love does, it keeps people hanging on. It keeps them believing in one another, believing in change. Our romance love had died, and what remained was what my therapist calls family love, a love that touched both of our deep childhood wounds of feeling unlovable and unworthy. This is why it was impossible to let go. It’s why I had to break my own heart.
And so I moved out. I spent a year across town in another part of Portland, and brushed up on my communal living skills with two dudes and two dogs. New Portland condo construction and Division street traffic my year’s soundtrack.
Last Fall, we received a letter from our landlord letting us know he was selling the house, and that it was time to find a new place to live. The trailer and I found each other, and the rest began to unfold.
I just finished cooking my second dinner tonight in my tiny homes’, tiny kitchen. At the moment, it has its original four burner gas stove and a soon to be functioning oven, so eventually I can bake savory and sweet things and warm up leftovers the old fashioned way. The stove is fueled by two 10 gallon propane tanks that I went and picked up tonight from Walgreens (of all places). Two nights ago I made my first meal, a large pot of chicken and vegetable soup. I tossed and turned all night in my bed (located next to the kitchen sink) with the smell of propane seeping into my dreams. I woke the next morning with a headache. We came to find out the oven’s pilot light was on all night (when did I turn it on?) and I had given myself a nice, big, propane hangover.
Tonight the trailer just smells of yellow curry and a stick of incense. The one space heater hums now, and it’s time to drink the cup of peppermint tea made with the electric tea kettle that overpowered and blew the electric panel my trailer is powered on, leaving us with a small zap sound and darkness.
This is my new home.