House on Wheels
I made my way to The Crossing restaurant, recommended by my supervisor at the Junior High School where I would be teaching in the upcoming fall.
A mind needed little imagination to reach back in history to a similar establishment full of cowboys and Indians. Just change out the chaps and boots for permanent press or military blues—The Crossing was the local watering hole, and, I subsequently learned, the best Mexican food in town. The rich tamales and enchiladas with rice and beans on the side mellowed my soul. A cold Tecaté beer delivered the sedative. Peeling myself off the chair, I went in search of a motel to lay my head on the pillow and drop off the planet for a while.
A half day later I woke to an overhead fan covered in cobwebs and white light streaking around the edges of sun panels darkening the window. I showered and made my way to the continental breakfast near the lobby.
After a couple cups of coffee, I begin to let in my new home. Everything in me fought the feeling of a foreign country with a language of its own: I want it to be easy, familiar. But I cannot push reality back. It’s going to be uphill, even steep terrain, and I’ve been climbing for two years already.
My kids’ faces flashed in front of me. I pushed back on the stressful memories of a acrimonious divorce and the struggles to stay connected to my children, teens at the time.
DIVE! I said to myself. DIVE IN. I found a payphone and called Sundance. It rang and rang. Finally, she answered.
“Hello?” A soft low voice on the other end of the phone.
I hesitated, about to belly flop on the dive.
“Hello …it’s Susan.”
No answer. I heard the indrawn breath and imagined the Benson and Hedges cigarette in her large hand.
“Well…are you coming over?”
“If that is OK, I mean yes, if you want me to…”
“Where are you?” she said with obvious effort to be patient.
I gave her the address and she gave me directions to the trailer park and hung up.
“And, welcome to Yuma, Susan. We are so glad you are here,” I muttered as I went to my room to pack up.
The El Camino my son left behind was now a dusty red pony, baptized in desert soil. Just walking to the car, I felt grit on my face, in my shoes, and on every surface I touched.
Following directions I left the main drag – a thoroughfare lined with low-budget buildings, gaudy signs, dusty people, and dusty cars. I turned onto B Avenue and drove along groves of citrus trees with blue water coursing through canals. Finally, I came to a large sign over an entrance: “Avenue B Trailer Park”. The unimaginative person who thought up the name must have also laid out the park. Row upon row of trailers pepper the streets, all of them with a number and letter code like prison cells on a block.
In spite of the modest surroundings, residents had planted gardens, and decorated with colorful clay pots holding cacti or roses or any tenacious sun-loving plant. I found Sky and Earth’s trailer, noticing there was one for sale across from them. Sky was at work so I pulled up close to the trailer.
With trepidation I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again and waited. No answer. As I raised my hand to knock one last time, the door flung open to an angry woman.
“Don’t pound on the door!” she said opening it wider and walking back into dark recesses, leaving me to decide if I wanted to cross her threshold.
Frankly, I did not. But, I’d come all this way. What the hell, I can only be murdered and rolled out later in the desert where no one would ever find me. I dove.