Friday, June 13, 2014

Calvin Didn't Flinch

During my childhood years, my family lived in a 12’ x 55’ single-wide mobile home. When we bought it in 1980 it was already about 20 years old. The plan was to live in that home while my dad built a house on our property. Given the economic recession of the early 1980′s, we never built that house. As my brother, my sister, and I got older, and consequently larger, my dad closed in a front porch to create another bedroom. He completely remodeled the inside of the home over the 15 years that we lived there: drywall, trim, carpets–the whole nine yards. The exterior would occasionally get painted, the roof tarred, and the underpinning, which had rotted from ground contact, replaced. It was a lovely home, and I do not remember being particularly envious of my friends who had nicer homes than we did. However, that doesn’t mean that I was unaware that they had nicer homes than we did.

I can remember being 9 or 10 years old when I went to spend the night at a friend’s house from school. He lived with his family in a small brick ranch home. It couldn’t have been over 1000-1100 square feet, i.e., relatively small, but I remember being enamored by the fact that the house went all the way to the ground. This wonderful home had no underpinning; it had bricks. Its roof was not flat; it had a gable-ended roof with shingles on it. It seemed so sturdy. So strong. Once again, I was not beset by the fact that our home sat upon concrete blocks 2 feet above the ground with the resulting void between floor and earth being hidden by plywood, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t plan on living in a site-built home when I grew up.


I am now 41 years old, and I own my own house. It is no Taj Mahal, but it is quite lovely. It has a gabled roof with shingles, and the concrete block foundation, sporting a brick veneer, rests upon a couple dozen cubic yards of concrete. It is sturdy. It is strong. And I am blessed to live here with my wife and six children.

The other day, my son Calvin and I were making a delivery to some friends who live in a manufactured home community near our house. (Manufactured home community is the new, friendlier way to say “trailer park.”) As we drove away, Calvin saw some children riding their bikes together in the street and exclaimed how much fun it would be live there.

In a trailer park.

In a mobile home.

He saw kids and playtime, while I saw single-wides and underpinning. Instead of possessions, he saw people and didn’t give a second thought to exchanging our lovely home in the middle of a 20-acre field for a single-wide in a manufactured home community in order to create more opportunities to be with people and make more friends.

I think Calvin has one-upped me. I truly believe that I could give up everything I have acquired in my life, move back into a single-wide home, and be really, truly happy. But I honestly think that I would flinch when it happened. However, that day–in that trailer park–Calvin didn’t flinch.

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