2010 – When a camper is not a home

I had sent the money up for my daughter and her husband to buy a camper that was for sale, so that it would be there when we arrived.  After traveling more than 8 hours with our five cats and dog, we came across the bridge and up the hill to view our purchase.  I was very tired after loading the trailer and the long drive, opened the camper door, stepped inside, then right back out and around to the back side of the truck  where Megan wouldn’t see me and let the tears come.  The enormity of our situation hit me like a ton of bricks. How in the world could the two of us actually LIVE in that tiny space with our cats?  From our farm, to 3 locations in North Carolina and  the few days with the census, to this.  There were no choices, it was all we now had. 

I needn’t have worried about so little space. I turned on the water and we found burst pipes, so out to Lowe’s to buy all the things needed and that problem was repaired.  We were up the road at my oldest daughter’s home for supper and showers, then walked down after dark to lay down with the cats and our dog as they got used to their new surroundings.  It poured that night and Megan woke up at dawn in a puddle of water.  Later that day we coated the roof of the camper. 

That evening my daughter’s husband told us there had been questions about the camper appearing and days later, our arrival.  Covenants on this “island” restrict any mobile homes on lots.  So the trailer became home for the cats, a place for our clothes, and we took up nightly residence on their living room couch and floor. 

A storm on the fourth night we were there blew up the air conditioning unit on top of the camper.  We bought a window model to keep the temp inside under 78  in the hot afternoon sun.

A man from the city with a vacation home in here knew of our situation, and offered us the use of one of the bedrooms with two twins beds on the nights they or their friends were not using it.  So on average 3 nights a week, we would drive down at 11 pm, get our blankets and pajamas from the back of the truck and get to sleep on beds. Up at 7 am, get dressed and carry things back out to the truck. He said he never even knew when we had been there. Gratitude to this kind man and his family.

Clothes, bottles of water, toiletries, blankets and pillows, in and out of the truck, in and out of different homes, eating lunch in the park or down near the camper, suppers with my oldest daughter; this was now our life.  No rooms, no home, nowhere to rest or take a nap.  Through depression, despair, shame, and fear shown a small glimmer of hope.  I would find a way to change this.

The camper, set up and waiting for our arrival in July of 2010.
The camper, set up and waiting for our arrival in July of 2010.
Inside the tiny camper, I took this photo as I stood in the bath.
Inside the tiny camper, I took this photo as I stood in the bath.

My life in my car

While I do not actually sleep in my car except on rare occasion, my daily life is all packed in my vehicle.

023 This is a photo taken on one of the days when I re-packed my car.

My little Saturn is my closet, dresser, pantry and bookcase.  Because I sleep several different places and have nowhere to leave my things, I carry them all in the trunk and backseat of my vehicle.Quilt, pillow, blanket, towels,  soap and shampoo, jackets, clothes, shoes and boots, toiletries, vitamins, bottles of water,  some food and a plethora of books travel wherever I go.  As well as jumper cables, some small hand tools, paper towels, paper plates, plastic silverware, some rope, paper, pens and pencils and a pencil puzzle and word game book (not Dell, I am still unhappy with them).   I am better at packing, but things still tend to get messy and out of place every couple weeks. 

I have this winter once the snow began stayed at my oldest daughter’s home.  The vacation home owned by a very nice man is about half a mile down the road and I have permission to sleep there.  But the water is turned off for the winter and the home is kept at 40 degrees.  It takes forever to heat up the one bedroom with the electric space heater he left in there, and going out in the cold at 11 pm to drive down and go through the process of carrying in of blankets and pajamas to sit in the cold waiting for a room to heat up to 50 to lay down and try to get warm just doesn’t seem worth all the trouble. Then up at 7, get jeans back on, out in the cold to start the car and let the ice or frost melt off the window to drive back to my daughter’s while I  really, really have to pee very very badly…

So I sleep on the living room floor at my daughter’s.  Their house is very small, about 960 square feet.  They have two bedrooms (one for my daughter and her hubby and one for my 16 year old grandson), a tiny office, a living room open to the little dining area, a galley kitchen behind which is room for the washer and dryer.  That’s it.  There is a folding table with a desk chair for my computer in a corner of the living room away from the tv area.  I have a few books and my computer there, and that is my spot.  A stool next to the table holds a couple changes of clothes.  There is no extra closet.  So except when I am washing dishes, or cooking when my daughter works late, or down at the barn taking care of the animals, this is where I am.  I can hardly wait for the weather to get a little better so I can sit out in the front lawn on a bench and read. 

I so miss having any space of my own.  It is long years without any.  No bedroom, no room at all.  Yet I am grateful that I am not outside in the cold and snow.  Day after day, month after month, this is my life – the life of a homeless person with an address.  One of those who falls through the cracks.