Ray mows the “lawn” first thing in the morning. Yes, he puts the word in scare quotes even as he thinks of it. A few square yards around the trailer he and Missy have lived in the last thirty years hardly qualifies as a lawn, but it still needs taking care of. Not everyone on the lot does it, most don’t, but he figures that is there choice. Some of the others complain, but not him. He takes care of his spot, the one that hasn’t changed since Ellie, their eldest, was born. It may not be much but it is their castle.
They worked hard for it, Ray mopping floors at the local high school, Missy waiting tables. They were just a couple of dumb kids when they got married and he put a down payment on the trailer. He calls it a “trailer” and not a “mobile home” or whatever name for it is popular these days. No need to put on airs. He has no shame of it, and, again, it is theirs. It was theirs from the time they were eighteen and crazy, starry eyed teens they were they thought they would drag it around the country with them, living a year here and a year there. They even pulled it off, each finding seasonal work wherever they went, for a year or two. Then came Ellie.
With Ellie they decided to come back home and settle down. They rented this spot, the one he takes such care of, and raised a family. Neighbors have come and gone over the years, and Ray being Ray, he has done his level best to make friends with all of them. Some small part of him is still that skinny, smiling, “hippy” kid he was, even with the extra eighty pounds and his remaining hair shaved tight to his head. People come, and people go. Most just want a space to call their own for however long. Some are seasonal workers, some are young professors at the local college who need just a little more space than an apartment in the village can afford them, but who cannot swing a house in town. Some are cantankerous loners, some bring baked goods for him and Missy, and some just smile and wave from their porches. Every once in a while he sees a young couple that looks just familiar enough to bring the nostalgia on.
It is a good life, Ray thinks as he puts the mower in its spot beneath the trailer. He drags creaky, middle aged bones up equally rickety steps (almost time for a new deck he tells himself) and sits in the old lawn chair. Missy brings out the Tupperware pitcher full of iced tea and a stack of plastic cups and he waits to see who will join them. He just sits back to survey their little piece of heaven and enjoy it.