Thursday, February 4, 2010

Little Boxes

I live in a trailer. There, I said it. I live in a trailer. An aluminum box with walls like cardboard, small cabinets, very few drawers and thin slats, barely thicker than veneer, for trim. And while it has garden tubs in the two bathrooms, they're made of plastic. So the magnetic cloth shower liners I was careful to buy, won't even stick to the sides.

Why does this bother me? Why does it feel as if I've slid down a couple of notches on the totem pole of life? It is, after all, just a box. We all live in boxes; whether aluminum, wood, brick, block or stucco, they're all just boxes.

Most likely it is not the physical box that bothers me, so much as the cultural box we Americans have assigned to people who live in trailers. You know...trailer trash.

Wikipedia defines trailer trash as: "A derogatory North American English term for poor white people. The term originates from the belief that such people often reside in trailers or mobile homes, especially in trailer parks."

Urban Dictionary is not so kind: "Derogatory description for person who seems well-suited to residential life in a mobile home park and is distinguished by poor hygiene, foul language, slovenly or slutty clothing, and general ignorance. Recreations include drinking malt liquor in lawn chairs under tattered R.V. awning and teenage pregnancy. Close synonymn for poor white trash."

Actually, the second 'definition' found in UD is slightly more enlightened: "First of all you don't need to live in a trailer to be trailer trash, and only a small percentage of people who actually do live in a trailer are considered trailer trash and their characteristics are...annoying loud mouths, dirty houses and clothes, greasy hair, their kids are out of control, lazy."

Herein lies my quandary. My current home now places me in the same cultural box as trailer trash, or poor white trash, a box I have spent a lifetime peddling furiously to stay out of.

Ironic, that.

Interestingly enough, I love it. No, I don't love getting used to plastic bathtubs and having no 'junk' drawer to hide my mess. But I love that we have plenty of room to spread out, in this 16' x 80' box. Our previous, temporary quarters was about a third of this size. I also love that our box sits on a 3/4-acre lot that is surrounded by woods and rolling pastures, with a view through the trees and over the fence of the Appalachian mountains.

I love that when I sit on the back steps in the morning, I experience the world awakening in a whole new way. I hear roosters crowing, turkeys gobbling, birds chirping in their raspy morning voices. I feel the wind on my cheeks, ruffling hair that escaped from my warm, winter hood, see leaves skitter across the lawn, watch the young pines sway. On clear days, I get to see the sun rise.

I love that we have a garden plot, all ready to be planted, and that soon Randy will be tilling the ground. That this weekend we will drive to Ellijay for blueberry bushes and fruit trees. And that we'll no longer be throwing kitchen waste in a landfill, but be mulching it in our garden. I love that this summer we'll be enjoying and sharing pesticide-free, homegrown tomatoes and beans and cucumbers and squashes, broccoli and carrots, and more of our tenderly-grown bounty.

I love the quiet sense of nature that abounds outside the walls of our home, our tin box in the country. I love knowing that as the seasons unfold, I will experience these surroundings in ever deepening levels of profound. And, I love that the quietness seeps inside the walls of our box, quieting our minds and filling our hearts.

When viewed in this lovely light, the quandary fades. It doesn't matter. It is, after all, just a box. A cultural box, a pigeonhole, with no real meaning, like so many of the other ones. These boxes were created by someone else, to consider, as Financial Times Lexicon says, a person, activity, etc, as belonging to a particular type or group, in a way that is too simple and therefore, unfair.

I am not 'trailer trash', never have been. And living in a trailer doesn't make me so, nor does it make me less.

Boxes are hurtful, to those who create them, as well as to those who must live in them. We all have value, no matter who we are, where we live, how we look or act, and what we do in society.

What kind of box are you living in? Not at home, but in your mind? If you think about it for a while, you will most likely come up with more than one.

Me? I live in a doctor box, a daughter box, a partner box, just to name a few. In my mind, these all have 'meanings' and, when I don't live up to what I see in my mind's eye, I'm the one who suffers.

So, today, for now, let's all step out of our boxes. And just be okay with where we are.

Click Here to Listen to Little Boxes on YouTube


Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Thank you to everyone who commented on Facebook, I would love to have your comments on here as well. Please share so others can hear your voice, too!

Do you live in a trailer? Have you ever?

What box are you itching to bust out of today??

Sharlene said...

THE BOX...crawled out about 7-8 yrs ago. Some days, I feel it dragging me back in. Some days, it is no where to be seen. Some days, I wake up in it and go to sleep in it. That box plays tricks on me. The settled feeling comes when you give yourself permission to visit, without judgement. Being aware of the boxes gives us the freedom to decide what they look like, what is in them, where they are, who created them and if/when they no longer exist.

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