Part One: The Knucklehead

Despite F.Scott Fitzgerald’s descriptions of magnificent mansions in The Great Gatsby, such estates, with their lavish drawing rooms, libraries, multiple fireplaces and twenty bathrooms are simply—overrated.

I know.
I lived in a 5th Wheel Trailer for a year, with my husband and a dog.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the layout and dimension of a 5th Wheel Trailer, let’s just say that in Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural parlance, a 5th Wheel is a Minimalist’s space in which only essentials count, like a jail cell.

There we were, selling our comfortable home in a safe suburban environment, buying a piece of untamed property we could not afford, shaking our sophomore son out of his cool room, and moving in with my mother–in-law, all while wrestling with second-handers—city planners, architects, and Ayn Rand herself– about the dimension and style of our proposed Spanish hacienda.

My husband Ron became the idealistic Howard Roark, sure that living at his mother’s house, across the creek from our home site, would work. Alas, within several months, it became apparent that living with my mother-in-law Betty, wonderful and generous person that she is, was untenable.

Now 15 years later, looking back and coming to her defense, I see the errors of our ways. How could we dislocate our teenage son Ben (his saxophone, stinky wrestling clothes, music, amps, hiking gear, road and mountain bikes, and girly posters) and our 14 year-old incontinent English Springer Spaniel Maggie (her old lambs wool bed, 5 leashes, crate, and odor) into Betty’s home, which heretofore, had been unoccupied with anything other than matching pillows, an étagère decorated with crystal and porcelain, and a precise little Pug?

It was agreed: we would rent a trailer and Ben would live in the two-room shack on the property, 50 feet from our new metal abode, our temporary shelter.

I loved this idea of camping with my sweetie, in less than 100 square feet.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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4 Responses to Part One: The Knucklehead

  1. momcat says:

    I can sympathise with living with the third generation both from me living back with my parents with my kids (babies and littlies) for 2 years and with having my kids half sisters living with me (baby and 5 yo) apart from my boys 18 and 13 respectively, also for 2 years. You get to a stage and age where you have put behind you the lifestyle limitations that children and pets impose and finally get to live the life you want to live and its very hard to regress even to help family and even if you are viewed as being selfish.

    On a different note: one benefit of the trailer was probably the hiatus from a lot of housework and also the opportunity to get rid of a lot of built-up clutter!

  2. Cheri Block Sabraw says:

    Yes, from your first sentence, I can see that your sympathy is not vicarious, but experiential!

  3. addhumorandfaith says:

    I’ll be back for the rest of this very interesting story! You got me at the mention of the 5th wheel!

  4. Life in the Philippines says:

    Thank you for sharing this post. I enjoyed reading about how you gave up a safe lifestyle, uprooted the boy and the dog, lived with your in-laws to build your dream home. And i liked the ending where at that moment, living in a small space with the bare essentials was fulfilling. in so many ways there are so many distractions that make us forget what really matters.

    good luck in putting your house together. I am excited about seeing it when you have finished:)

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