Camping

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Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

When my son’s father left us and the house was taken, it was all I had. An old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. Ah, and my wedding ring, but I pawned that as soon as I could. My 5-year-old son needed to eat and I didn’t need a wedding ring anymore.

The fighting started in January two years ago. It was snowy and icy cold that year. The frigid wind could frostbite your nose in 20 minutes, especially if you were walking against it without a scarf. We promised to never lock each other out of the house no matter how bad the fighting got. Maybe because we loved each other just enough. Or maybe because we didn’t want blood on our hands. Either way, the promise was kept.

By May we weren’t speaking. He once brought me flowers and didn’t say a word, just laid them on the kitchen table. I’m not sure why, but I think he was trying to show our son how to treat a woman. I found it honorable, but disappointing. A beautiful bouquet, but no follow through. A silent conversation begging for some kind of verbal language. But nothing.

By the fall, our mouths had grown cold from the death of our words over the months of silence. The quiet in our house bothered me so my son and I spent the majority of our time outside. On November 9th, I noticed an array of things missing – the couch, our end tables, our nightstands, the recliner. Over the next few days, more things slowly disappeared until the only thing left was our bed, my son, and I. On Thanksgiving, we ate trail mix. And by Christmas, that bed was gone and we were living in that old, vintage blue and white-topped Volkswagen with pillows, sleeping bags, clothes, a cast iron skillet, a backpack, water bottles, and Christmas ornaments. He had taken everything, except what was mine.

“Mama! We need the drill!” A small voice calls out, holding up a board. Those dark brown curls and grey-blue eyes look at me excitedly. Those strong hands pressing hard against the wood. And those freckles. Those freckles he gets from me. My sweet, strong son.

“Yeah, baby. I’m coming,” I tell him, grabbing a few more screws from the box. The old man who lives down the way, Tom Wicker, let us borrow his drill, his ladder, and bought our screws. In fact, everything for our cabin home was donated by him. The wood, the tractor to set posts, the square, the saw, the tin roof, the windows. Everything. He lets me use his address on my son’s school forms, lets us live on his land for free, and sends his teenage sons to help us if we need any. We even eat dinner at his house on Friday nights. He usually orders pepperoni pizza. The only man I’ve ever trusted and the kindest soul I’ve ever met.

“Go get the vegetable basket, honey. We need to do some picking today!” I tell him, excited for the response I always get. He turns around, looks at me, smiles big, and jumps up and down before running into the cabin and getting the rickety vegetable basket. That boy sure does love gardening! That $200 I got for my wedding ring got us a hoop house and carrot, potato, corn, onion, garlic, broccoli, strawberry, and blueberry seeds. And Mrs. Hosher gives us eggs and chicken from her coop. The only thing I get at the store is rice.

“Mama! Are these ready?” he asks, careful hands mulling around the carrots. “If the top is close to an inch long, then it’s ready baby,” I tell him. He uses his finger to measure but then gets my sewing tape out of his pocket. I smile. We’ve been working on his estimation skills, but he always likes to make sure.

We live in a home-built cabin on a man’s land, live off of crops and pizza, cook over a fire outside, and bring water in from a well.

Some people say I’m homeless. Others say I’m crazy.
I say I’m camping.

Thanks so much for reading friends! From now on, my creative writing posts will be on Fridays! 🙂 Kick off your weekend with a good read!

Image: Canva

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2 thoughts on “Camping

  1. That was a great story!!Your grandma Irene and me have lived in some pretty bad places with little or no help from a man!!But we did the best we could and I think we both turned out good,and have kids we our very proud of!!

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