A few days after my eleventh birthday, my mother decided that the timing was right to announce that she was pregnant. I jumped up from the loveseat and screamed, hugging her and eyeing her stomach to see if her bump had started to show yet. The streamers from my party were still hanging and it seemed almost as if they were to celebrate my new sibling. Excitement pulsed through my veins and the air was filled with happiness. Sadly, this did not last long. My mother had a second part to the news: we would be moving into a mobile home. I returned to the loveseat and pouted as she explained that we would have more room than the cramped apartment where I had grown up in. My mind was scramming to make sense of how I would tell my friends that I was moving, and to a trailer park of all places. At eleven, I was already familiar with the negative connotation that ‘trailer park’ holds. Television shows threw around the insult “trailer trash” and I believed that was what I had in store. Instead of rejoicing over the news of a sibling, I cried into my pillow over the fact I would be leaving stable lifestyle.
The mobile home that we moved into was, indeed, bigger than the apartment. My bedroom was on the far end closest to the playground area that the trailer park had. The swings were flipped and wrote on in sharpie, teenagers leaning against the torn wire gate as they passed back and forth a blunt. When my little brother begged to go over to play, my mother allowed it as long as he stayed away from the gate. Unlike my brother, I had trouble adjusting to the new lifestyle. At the bus stop, I ducked my head every time a car drove by and prayed that it wasn’t someone that I knew. Of course, that was inevitable. One day in math class a girl told me how surprised she was to see me there, saying that “I didn’t seem like it”. To this date, her words still don’t make me angry because I know that she believed that was the right thing to say. My mentality was almost matching hers; I did not fit the trailer park stereotype, so I believed I didn’t deserve to live there. Still, I found my heart aching when I saw the kids at the bus stop wearing Kmart sneakers and worn jackets. The name brand on my thrifted jeans felt pointless as they stood waiting for that yellow school bus.
It wasn’t until winter that I acknowledged my twisted mindset. The season brought forth the cold weather which it represents, forcing us to drip our sinks at night. We kept a heater in the kitchen, a tip our neighbor had told us as he practiced his English. On the coldest night of the season, we woke up to flashing red lights and the sound of sirens. I peeked out my window to survey the sight, my breath stopping as I saw firemen pulling a family out of a trailer. Flames roared and so did my mind. In that moment I realized, things happen too quickly to get caught up on your own selfish thoughts. Something worse is possible, as well as something better. But what matters is being content and thankful with what you have. Now I practice being grateful for the roof over my head, the caring nature of my neighbors, and the heartbeat of my younger sister. Living in a trailer park is no longer something that I feel that I need to hide, but rather I am thankful for all the lessons it has taught me.