Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Summer Bay

    When I was growing up, we spent 3years living in a caravan.

    And no, not one of those luxury models with a toilet and shower, or with an annex built with permanent framing almost like a house with fancy furniture in it ( like those rich people a few sites down ) .. no, we lived in a small HOLIDAY sized caravan .. 2 bunks .. a kitchenette with a tiny tv* ( showing either Daktari or Mike Willesee, The Muppets, or news on the Azaria Chamberlain trial as I remember it.  )  When it rained, our canvas annex flooded.  When we need to pee at night, we did it in a bucket.  When we wanted to shower, we took a key to the ablution blocks and risked perverts, and wore our thongs/flip-flops in the shower.


    Being high maintenence was not an option.  Owning things was not an option, possessions were sparse and at Christmas my mum would find an interesting dead tree branch and spray it silver and hang baubles off it.

    My dad shot rabbits and went fishing.  Buckshot from the .22 in your meal was a nasty reality, even though mum did her best.  We ate fish/rabbit/fish/rabbit.  Every frikken night.  Or so it seemed.
    I don't remember being happy, but I don't remember being unhappy either.  It was just my life.


    I wasn't invited to other people's homes to compare and get jealous ( I only just thought of this then - funny?! - maybe I was the only one that didn't know I was trash .. or maybe I just wasn't allowed to have friends.. or maybe it was easier.. friends were dangerous .. can't have people knowing too much about us, best not make any? ) but we were new in town, and there was always new kids ( transients ) to play with in the caravan park .. and my sister.  I don't remember feeling teased or unliked.  That shit could wait to high school.


    We arrived in town in Grade 4.  My father uprooted us in the middle of the night from our former home/town due to reasons unknown even today.  Personally I think someone was going to smash him for any number of reasons, so we just took off.  We lived in a house then, and we just left everything .. proper furniture .. the lot.  Still, it wasn't the first time we'd moved, and I don't remember missing anything.  You learn not to grow attached to things. 

    I just remember coming home from school to find it pretty much empty and my prized Hanimex Camera was on the mantle, in a new brown vinyl case *squinty suspicious eyes*.  That meant something was happening.  I knew not to ask.  Questions get you in trouble.  I was 9yrs old.
    I didn't get to say goodbye to my friends, or tell my teacher.  I just suddenly wouldn't be at school anymore.  Just like that.  Howdy Doody.


    So we moved states and ended up in some town my parents travelled through once.  I don't know - I was probably excited.  I don't remember.  I guess it was an adventure.  I still have a good deal of 'pick up and leave and don't tell anyone and start a new life somewhere' in me, so it might be genetic**

    So yeah, the caravan.
    Grade 4 to Grade 6, maybe only 2yrs then .. but i'm sure it was 3.  I'm pretty sure we got a house before High School, which was a big relief, so maybe I was more aware of being trailer trash than I admit to.

    Anyway, back to my present, we need to move out of the house come January.  We're knocking out some walls, getting a wardrobe, a functional kitchen and prepping the ceilings for an upstairs in the fure.  We can't afford the upstairs just yet, but since the ceiling has to come off anyway, they're putting in the foundations for a 2nd story.  Or something.


    Which means we have to find alternate accoms.
    At one stage I thought it would be cheaper to BUY a caravan on eBay and live in our driveway.
    Which made me lose a day in an alternate universe and googling to find OUR caravan.

    I lost a whole day of work.

    I mean, we must have had only 2 sets of clothes each to fit in there?  And no toys.  I remember matchbox cars, but, having no friends ( or poor friends? ) I guess I had nothing to compare to - didn't everyone pee in a bucket?  I know I wanted a Baby Alive more than anything, but she never came.

    We lived in a caravan.  Mum & Dad slept down their end, a mere 2 metres max from √≥ur end' which was a set of bunks.  Me on the bottom, and my sister on top.  Our kitchen/living room was in the middle and 'bedtime' meant the vinyl concertina door would be slid across, thus blocking the light, but not the conversation.

    It was probably weird.

    I envy normal people.  People that grew up not weird.  I do.
    I think they can smell the fraud on me ..

    I got lots of stories.

    When we moved to the house, I missed the sound of the crashing of the waves.


    *As an interlude, that TV also introduced me to Elvis movies, Gidget and Doris Day/Rock Hudson.
    I first saw Lucille Ball movie on that tv. No I can't remember which one, but it was HILARIOUS, and no, I am not a gay male.

    **I think i'm on my 5th life now, but i'm not dodgy.  Only changed my name once ( gladly ) to be married, but i've left whole lives behind me, personas that were me at the time that didn't fit anymore, friends I never really liked that liked me more ( but never knew the inner me, so didn't really know me at all ).


    Note : All images in this post were found on eBay and caravan fan forums.  I couldn't find our exact caravan, but these come pretty close .. the textured fake glass/perspex with the bottle bottom imprint .. the fancy knobs on the siding doors where our clothes were stashed.. the fold down table that doubled as a bed for guests ( lucky them! ) .. the brown ..


    Anonymous said...

    I spent most of year 7 in a caravan as well (although it feels like it was way longer) - my brother, my sister and I slept in a tent at the back of the caravan. We can be trailer trash together :)

    Oh, my son's bedroom is now a caravan not unlike the one you've posted pics of above! Apparently that's cool when you are 18 though!


    mandy said...

    I love this story Lea. You're resilience and determination is a testament to your upbringing and I think you're a wonderful person. You're kids are lucky to have a Mum with an interesting life story, and they will grow to have your beautiful qualities as well.

    Funnily enough I always wanted to live in a caravan. I always thought those kids had the best lives, could live near the beach, were a bit wild and free. I lived in the same house and my folks still live there. It's all about perspective I suppose.

    Adventures of a Crazy Mumma said...

    What doesnt kill you makes you stronger. if you can survive and make change, then nothing from the past can haunt you.

    Julie - MOOPS and hoops said...

    Great read. You never know what is behind a person's face and how they have grown up. Everyone has a story. Look forward to hearing more from house n baby!

    h&b said...

    Thanks everyone ..

    Yeah Mandy, I think I liked the caravan too . it was an adventure .. a quick walk to the beach .. a creek nearby to explore .. riding our bikes through the vans and taking note of any new kids etc.

    Hence getting lost for a day looking at them .. i'd totally live in one again .. I think ?!?


    Fiona Claire said...

    Thanks for your great story! Your honesty and spirit come shiny through, and you have given a special perspective on home, houses and identity.

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