But I don't cook meth: overcoming my own "trailer trash" misconceptions

Guestpost by Kathleen on Jul 9th

trailer street © by kismihok, used under Creative Commons license.

I think part of growing up is becoming disillusioned with your uninformed, sometimes immature, expectations about adult life. I thought when I became a grownup I could have ice cream for breakfast whenever I wanted, and now that just sounds like a great way to get horrible indigestion. When I was in college, I imagined I would be buying a house in just a few years, or at least living in some fabulous urban loft, because I was going to become a famous classical singer in no time flat. Once my fiancé and I were both out of college and in the dreaded real world, I quickly realized that this was not to be.

We were drowning in student loan debt, had just moved back to our hometown in the Midwest, were shacking up with my parents, and planning a wedding. To top it off, we had just left an apartment in one of the less glamorous California neighborhoods that had, shall we say, a slight infestation problem (I won't delve further, because I still have nightmares about it) and even that apartment was too expensive.

We were scrambling to get out of the nest — I needed stability and after being crammed in my childhood bedroom for eight months, we both needed room. But we didn't know where to start.

So we developed three requirements for a new home.

  1. Must be a place we could see ourselves staying for at least five years.
  2. Must be affordable.
  3. Must accommodate our cat.

Sadly, every apartment we looked at we completely hated — either the neighborhood wasn't good, or it was old and run down, or it was out of our price range.

When the idea of living in a mobile home was first suggested, I scoffed at it. Don't weird people who cook meth live in trailers? Surely not someone like me.

But slowly, we began to warm to the idea. It would be OURS. We could paint and decorate, and boy was there bang for our buck. Our interest was piqued even more when a five-year-old trailer went up for sale just blocks from my fiancé's office. It had THREE BEDROOMS AND TWO BATHROOMS. The luxury of so much space secretly excited me.

So we went with our realtor to look at it.

The park was clean, and there was an application process to attempt to weed out all the meth cookers. There was a list of rules for the park involving keeping your grass cut and no cars on blocks. They were kiboshing all the stereotypes I had in my head.

Walking through the trailer, I could picture where our furniture would go. The smallest bedroom was the perfect space for my vanity and keyboard. The kitchen was much larger than the sliver of space we had in our previous apartment. We both wanted to live here. And it would be well within our budget.

The road to actually buying the place was a little more difficult. Financing for mobile homes is not easy to find, but there are a few specialty companies our realtor recommended. The process is much more like buying a car than buying a house, which I guess is fitting, given the wheels. It was scary. We were committing to this place.

I avoided telling everyone except our nearest and dearest the details of where we lived. I even out-and-out lied and said it was an apartment once. There is a stigma attached to mobile homes…

We finally sealed the deal, moved in and got settled. But I avoided telling everyone except our nearest and dearest the details of where we lived. I even out-and-out lied and said it was an apartment once. There is a stigma attached to mobile homes, and even I had preconceived notions about what it would be like and how it would define me.

Shortly after we moved in, I went through this period of feeling like a bundle of failures. I had gone off to California to get my degree, escape my dreary Midwestern hometown and build a fabulous, successful life for myself. And here I was, back to my hometown with my tail between my legs, and living in a trailer. Every disappointment I felt about how my life was progressing (or not, as the case may be) all got tied up in where I lived. Plus, we got a few funny looks and some judgey comments that I took deeply (and unnecessarily) to heart. For months I kept where we lived under wraps, and when I did tell people, it was with a tone of apology, almost always followed by the reasons why we had chosen to live here. I felt the need to justify it.

But after a year of having people visit our home and love it, I just think about how awesome it is to have exactly what we wanted in a way we could afford. We did what made sense to us, and made our home into a place we love.

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About Kathleen

Kathleen is a tattooed opera enthusiast who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. She hangs out with her long-suffering fiance and grumpy cat of indeterminate gender.