A while back, I signed up to be a part of the Clever Cookie School of Blog, and since then I’ve gotten to be good blogging friends with some incredible bloggers from around the world. Each month on the 10th, some of us form a 10 on 10 photography circle. We share 10 photos (occasionally more – my bad!) from our life – a day of our life, generally – and one of us link to another. Our visitors have the opportunity to make their way around the circle. Some of you may have made your way here from Lauren of Life at Number Five and if so WELCOME! Others of you will leave me and head on off to visit with Cathy at Peregrination Gourmande, who is sharing some of her recent trip to Australia with us. I hope you enjoy!
My day job – the job that gives me the freedom to take photos and to spend time blogging – is as a teacher. While I’ve taught a lot of subjects and grade levels during my career, I’m currently teaching in a classroom for students with behavioral and emotional disorders. One of the things that I spend a lot of time working with my students on is setting goals. We talk about our dreams and what we want and how we think we might get there. Yesterday afternoon, we spent a lot of time about honoring our past and where we come from while still wanting more for themselves.
One of my sweetly obstinate and defiant kids said, “Yeah, when I’m grown, I’m going to have a nice trailer! Not like the broken-down nasty mess that we live in now. I’m going to have something nice and new!”
And in that moment, I was taken back.
I don’t have anything against trailers. Swatches of my childhood were spent in trailer parks. Today’s modular homes can be quite beautiful and modern. And if I’m perfectly honest, as I’ve made my way through this life, I’ve lived in some places that have caused concern on behalf of those that love me – in particular that duplex that I moved into in Hattiesburg…the one that my mother walked into, looked around, and said, “You can’t live here. We have to find somewhere else. You can’t live here,” as she gazed at the hole in the floor in the kitchen and surveyed the general level of disrepair. I lived there for four years; it wasn’t so bad once I got it cleaned up and once the landlord realized that I was a stable tenant and perhaps some repairs were in order.
I don’t want to live in a trailer. That is not as far as my heart can dream. While I might have started in a trailer, I certainly don’t want to end there.
Around the corner and down the street from our house is a trailer park. I have to be honest – for the longest time, I thought it was abandoned. I never saw anyone there. The laundromat (or as Sweet Husband calls it, the washateria) is closed, as is the Mexican restaurant out front. One early morning out on my walk, I decided to walk through the place because I thought it was a short-cut to another street, and discovered that the trailer park was not in fact abandoned…although it probably should be.
(I’m judging. Totally judging. Can’t help it)
At the back of the park, while there is no short-cut, there is a make-shift “bridge” across a fairly steeply banked drainage ditch, which itself is filled with stagnant water and the debris left behind by those who don’t see the value in finding a trash bin for their cast-offs.
The back of the trailer park seems to be where hope goes to die. The trailers are boarded up – to keep people and critters out, I suppose. But those decaying hulks are right next to where people actually make their homes – whether by necessity or by choice.
Some of the trailers on the west side of the park have lovely little yards and look like you could proudly drop them in any neighborhood with little disturbance, but most of them look like the above – socks and clothing hanging over the rail to dry, the damp of the humid Mississippi Coast settling deep into the fibers. The next lot over could be home to an empty shell.
In looking at this photo, I guess you could make the argument that these kinds of trailers are modern shotgun houses.
And I guess that there are some folks who don’t particularly care about where they live or what it looks like. While I haven’t looked up the crime statistics for this particular part of the city, it makes sense to me that such a derelict place could be home to more severe crimes. I know in my walks along the street that runs behind the park, I’ve seen hypodermic needles and other refuse that makes me wonder about the sad lives that come to this point.
One of my greatest hopes for my students is that they far exceed their parents OR me. I want them go places and do things. I want them to be happy and healthy. I want them to comfortable and secure. I want them to contribute to our society but at the same time, I want them to be a little uncomfortable in their stretch. While it’s OK to live in a trailer the rest of your life, I sincerely hope that my student doesn’t choose to stay in a trailer for the rest of his life. I hope that at some point he dreams a bigger dream…but not one that involves Bayou Oaks.
As a side note, these photos were taken around 3:00 in the afternoon. One of my goals is to get back to Bayou Oaks to take pictures early in the morning…as the sun is just coming up. I think it would make interesting photos but more importantly there wouldn’t be all those folks around. I want to go when it’s still asleep so I’m not hurriedly and surreptitiously taking pictures. I suppose that I also want to be respectful of the people who are in essence stuck there. I don’t know about anywhere else in the world, but from where I sit, it is incredibly difficult to escape the clutches of poverty. It’s hard to improve your life when all of your energy goes to sustaining what little you have. Which is not to make excuses – it can be done. But the amount of sacrifice is overwhelming, and I think about my student…who hasn’t been prepared to keep moving forward even if it is only by inches, who can’t make it through a class period without giving up.
Thank you for stopping by! If you are in the beginning stages of this journey around the circle, you will leave me and head off to Cathy to see some wonderful pictures of Melbourne! And if you started with me and have found your way back to me, you’ve done a 360! Please make sure to leave us some comment love on your trip – you know how much we bloggers love comments!