with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Flashbacks via Cleaning Out the Trailer

I’ve been horribly sick with the start of strep throat and laryngitis which moved into fever and chills. Horrible way to start this new chapter in our life. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, literally, and headed out yesterday with Brent to the trailer to begin the cleaning out process.

It was easier than I thought and painful in other ways.

I plunged in with energy I didn’t have, organizing Brent and focusing on the priorities. Clear out the heaviest items in the trailer that obstruct movement (boxes and bikes) then Brent clears out the back of the truck while I begin the pitching, tossing, and sorting inside the trailer.

It is amazing, five years later, how my attitude about STUFF has changed. Maybe not changed but shifted. The panic to save every reciept to track every dime being spent (since we were living on savings, every penny counted), the ridiculous money-wasters spent on things we really didn’t need, and the determination to fill up our life “space”….those things have changed, I hope.

Yet, I found that the trailer wasn’t as full as I had imagined. It had felt like it was overflowing at the time, though I know a lot of stuff was moved into Brent’s parents for safer keeping like precious books and papers. Still, it wasn’t the cluttered junk pile of my memory.

Unburying the desk was a delight. Brent worked for almost a year creating this masterpiece of a desk. Every detail of the design is amazing. There are two filing drawers, but they have only a six or eight inch “side” around it with no bottoms. The square comes out, attached by sliders, all the way so you don’t have to break your wrist to get to the last two inches. There is no bottom to the drawers so the pendaflex folders just hang there freely. Attention was paid to every millimeter of the desk to save weight, since this is a major killer of trailer. Inside, the main wall cabinets have been routered out from about eight inches in from the edge through the center, since the thickest support needs to be along the edges not in the middle, again, saving weight. From the outside, it looks totally solid, but in the middle of the panel, it is about a half inch deep instead of two or three inches.

I love the wood. Brent used mahogany and red oak. Mahogany is lighter, so that went into the largest pieces, but red oak is very strong yet easy to work with, so the inside pieces are made of oak. The top has a dark peachy granite like laminant, which I adore. Brent had never used laminant and he did an amazing job. It is so smooth with a soft matte finish. The edges of the desk are all rounded with a router, not a harsh corner for me to bump into.

Section of the front of the desk with the moveable keyboard table and angular paper standThe angles are great, too. While the desk appears to be square, it is actually angled with a cut-out in the middle for me to sit and the computer monitor sits on a platform atop the desk at an angle in the corner. Closed up with the chair shoved in, it is a rectangle and traditional desk. Opened up with me sitting there, it is a work of wonder.

Anyway, it was marvelous to touch the smooth wood and reassuring to see that it hadn’t cracked or split anywhere. We still have to go through everything, but Brent applied layers and layers of sealent, so it should be still okay after surviving five years in the toxic heat of Oklahoma.

I found the last letter we received from Grandmother Matthews regarding her sadness over the death of Toshi, my precious fuzzy child, just before her own death by only about a week or two. I haven’t shown it to Brent, as the timing was not good, but I put it carefully in our little basket of family pictures and treasures. That was heartbreaking. I also found Toshi’s harness and a couple of rabies and ID tags that stopped my heart. I know that parents say you never really get over the death of a child, or parent, but I will never get completely over the death of my fuzzy baby after 17 years of unconditional love and adventure.

There were also reminders of my friends in Greensboro. I found cards and notes and gifts from them, as well as a small box with some of the toys and tools I used to teach water aerobics there. Those will go into storage now, as we have little room left for too much sentimentality. A curse of life on the road in a trailer.

Stacks of stuff piled up on the couch in the trailer to sort throughI pulled out all the blankets, pillows, sheets, and clothes that are worth saving to be washed. Now that I’ve lost almost a person in weight, it is amazing how BIG my clothes were five years ago. I still wear XXL t-shirts, though I can fit into a Large, because I like the roominess when I move about and exercise, but still…size 24 shirts, huge pants, shorts that would fit an elephant. I wish I could say I relished every moment of the pitch and toss of these things, but I’ve passed much of that during the last five years of pitch and toss of fat clothes in Israel and now they are just a nusiance. I’m way past moving on to smaller and better things.

By the end of the day, Brent and I were pretty exhausted. He found that most of the plastic stuff left in the open in the back of the truck were totally sunburned and damaged. One plastic container shattered into pieces when he lifted it up, held together by position rather than structure. Metal things like our snow chains for the tires are completely rusted but salvagable. Plastic gas cans, hoses, water filters, all rotted and ruined. I thought we’d covered the back of the truck but we hadn’t, so the sun’s damage will cost us a bit to replace everything. It’s safer to replace it all anyway, as who knows what has happened to it over five years.

Tempermentally, we did okay, with only one flare up over some papers, but the stress creeped in anyway. By keeping Brent working on the outside of the trailer, he is spared a lot of the emotional shit found on the inside. He’ll have to deal with that soon, but for now, this is enough. He has plenty to think about.

Oh, one glorious moment came after Brent installed two new deep cycle marine batteries which power the trailer. He asked me to turn on the lights to check the electricity once they were installed. Instead, I turned on the car CD/stereo we had custom installed and Tchaikovsky came pouring out at a high cresendo. Brent was standing outside the trailer with his leather work gloves and me inside, looking at each other through the window, and we both began air conducting the orchestra as it smashed and whirled to the climax. We laughed. Great timing.

I started the washing “line” of stuff, bags and bags of it, last night. More to do this morning, then back to the trailer to keep plugging away at the cleaning, sorting, and purging.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

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