Free rolling 

My life is begging for trailers

My problem, Daniel tells me, is that I'm greedy, though I don't see what's so greedy about getting another trailer. We're not talking Taj Mahal here. My needs are simple. It's not like I'm opening my own trailer park; it's just that I need an office, and maybe a guest room, or just a "garden trailer on the creek," even though I don't have a garden or a creek. But I do have an animal graveyard and a freeway running along the back of my tiny house with the huge back yard – a back yard that, if you ask me, is begging for trailers.

"What about the last disaster?" Daniel reminded me.

"What disaster?" I said. "I don't remember any 'disaster.'"

"What do you mean, you don't remember?" he asked. "You trashed that trailer."

"I didn't trash that trailer," I said. "That trailer was trashed when I bought it." In fact, I saved that trailer like a neglected pet. It was a 1974 Serro Scotty camper that was too big for my trailer hitch, which I discovered when I looked into my rearview and saw that it had popped off the back of my bumper and was free rolling into oncoming traffic. Maybe that's what Daniel was talking about. Lord, it's coming back now. When I caught sight of that trailer rolling unattached along the highway about to cause a pileup that could depopulate half a high school, my heart stopped like an overwound watch.

Thank God it swerved into an irrigation ditch before it hit anything. I had to borrow Lary's truck to pull it out. Unfortunately, the truck also came with Lary, and the ordeal cost me my entire supply of generic Peruvian Xanax. Predicaments like this make me wish my trailer salesman dad had tutored me better before he up and died when I was young. It's true he'd stopped selling hitch trailers and had moved onto motor homes by the time I was 9, but he could have imparted plenty of wisdom in that time nonetheless. My mother taught me lots of stuff I remember perfectly well at that young age, like how to haggle the price down on a set of TV trays at the swap meet.

"Tell her you only have 25 cents," she'd instruct me. "Say you want to buy them for your mom for her birthday." If I mentioned that her birthday wasn't for nine months, she'd remind me that it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

And she's right. Preparation does not hurt. I thought I was prepared with my 2-inch tow hook on the back of my PT Cruiser, a car that Grant says proves I have lesbian taste even though I am not a lesbian nor have I ever tasted one. Well, it turns out you can't tow a trailer that weighs more than your car, which makes a lot of sense, but at the time all I saw was a 1974 Serro Scotty and all I could think of was how Disney World was opened only three years before this camper was built, and how my family, back when it was intact and we lived in Florida and both my parents were alive and employed at the same time, used to take a trailer like this one to a campground nearby called the Cozy Palms Trailer Court. There my parents would sleep inside on the double bed that had been converted using cushions from the dinette set, and my two sisters and I would bundle in the same double sleeping bag on the ground by the door.

It wasn't the official Disney campsite, but one of those bargain ones owned by a chain-smoking, retired forklift operator who kept his horny dog tied to a post by the check-in window. To my sisters and me, though, it was the Taj Mahal of trailer parks. We'd lie awake under the moon in a three-way spoon, counting stars and listening to the uncharacteristically subdued murmurings of our parents. It's one of the few snapshots of immeasurable happiness from my past.

Soon after that my father died and my mother's tastes went through a sophisticated phase, during which we lived in Switzerland and other hoity places. But in the end she bought a trailer because it turned out her needs were simple after all. I kind of consider that a blessing, to live long enough to understand that the human condition doesn't require a lot of luxury. I've traveled all over the planet myself since then, not to the Taj Mahal exactly, but I've stayed in other places that rival it in opulence. In the end I bought a tiny house with aluminum awnings hardly bigger than the double-wides my dad used to sell. The back yard is big, though, and if you ask me, it's begging for trailers.

Hollis Gillespie authored two top-selling memoirs and founded the Shocking Real-Life Writing Academy (www.hollisgillespie.com).

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