New travelers have put down stakes in two different spots across from us. They're monthly spots, which means we'll get used to seeing these new people and their moveable homes; their trucks will become familiar to us; we'll notice patterns in their daily movements that will shape into recognizable routines (one's morning jaunt to pick up sweet tea from Sonic, another's afternoon trips to the clubhouse gym with her baby strapped to her chest and her toddler in tow, that couple's evening hot tub ritual); we might even learn their names. And then, one day—perhaps we'll be here for it, perhaps we'll have gone out for coffee or to the movies or we'll have moved on, ourselves—there will be a vacant slab of concrete where the travel trailer or motorhome once stood. Like the space left on a shelf when something is sold out, the gap will be obvious, startling.
A freshly evacuated spot has a particular, razed look to it. Usually an oil or water stain amoeba is left exposed. In the winter, a homemade sleeve of mylar tape and pink insulation might be blown open and only half-stuck to the abandoned water spigot. The lid of the electric box is often ajar or the sewer uncapped (typically both).
In six months, you'd think I'd have grown accustomed to the transience of RV parks, but I haven't. I still feel a pang, an existential ache, when I glance out the window and realize someone else has gone (even if we never met one another). It's a reminder of how unknowable all of us are, and also—how life on wheels is nothing if not about movement, how this kind of travel is a repetitive exercise in making and breaking camp, how an RV park is a neighborhood designed to change daily, oftentimes hourly.
Come mid-March, our wheels will be put to use once again. We'll have been parked in this very spot since the end of September, plenty long enough for longer term travelers to recognize a few things about us: that we like to walk the park together in the hour before sunset; that Monday nights are when we unload nylon sacks, bulging with groceries, from the car (that it used to be our Sunday night ritual); that we carry our trash to the dumpster around the corner instead of leaving it at the curb for the park staff to pick up; that we hang our damp laundry in the front window of the rig, t-shirt phantoms that float above the dashboard. Maybe we exhibit other patterns, too, that I don't even realize. Probably we do.
It'll be someone's turn to miss us, to wonder if we'll ever cross paths again, to stare at the bright slab of concrete we've left behind, our former foundation, and feel wistful for who knows what.
Notes from the week of January 17
+ Letter of Recommendation ("celebrations of objects and experiences that have been overlooked or underappreciated" on nytimes.com; I enjoyed "Sick Days" and "SmartWool Socks" before I hit the limit of ten free articles per month)
MEALS EATEN, DRINKS DRUNK
+ egg & bell pepper scramble w/ avocado, pepper jack cheese, and fire-roasted salsa, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla
+ too. much. pizza.
+ ice cream sandwiches
+ kombucha tea
+ Bota Box 2014 Malbec (hello, amazing value)
READ & NODDED MY HEAD
+ "It all matters" (I've long suspected it all matters, but this piece really cemented it for me)
+ "I like to learn about living life by closely inspecting how other people are living theirs" (I'm reading the archives of a blog I enjoy, and this sentence really resonated with me)