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My Sweet Little Fifties Rig

By Laura Resau

Last summer, I was down to the wire. My baby would be coming soon from Guatemala, whenever the adoption was finalized. (Weeks? Months? Who knew?)  I was in the midst of moving furniture out of my writing room, painting the blood-red walls with three coats of pastel blue, and filling the space with a crib, changing table, and mountains of plastic toys. My forlorn writing desk was shoved into the corner of our tiny dining/living room.

Around that time, both sets of soon-to-be grandparents flew here for back-to-back visits. Their refrain was, “Once we’re retired next year we’ll be out all the time to see the baby!” The realization hit me. I could no longer close a door and slip into my imaginary worlds. I had no room of my own.

I panicked. Although I adore my parents and in-laws, I had book contracts and deadlines, and how, how, HOW was I going to write while crammed into a corner of a grandparent-filled dining/living room? Not to mention the baby who would be crawling around doing noisy baby things with all those battery-powered toys.

In desperation, I raced around my neighborhood from one For Sale sign to another, gazing longingly at big houses with detached artist’s studios. All were three times our price range. I looked into getting an addition. Twice our price range. I even looked into a yurt. In our price range but where would we stick it?  Our yard is as dinky as our house.

And then one day…

I discovered a library book called A Little House of My Own, full of tiny houses of all shapes and purposes. I loved the book so much I left it out in the rain (subconsciously, of course) so that it would get soaked and damaged beyond repair and I’d have to keep it (and pay the library an exorbitant replacement fee.)

My new favorite activity became fantasizing about a little writing house of my own. I lingered over the picture of an outhouse converted into a poetry shack. I imagined myself bathed in the eternal sunshine of George Berhard Shaw’s writing hut, which rotated on an axis to follow the sun. I pictured myself bouncing around and spinning tales in a cheerful traveling house made from an old post truck.

And that got me thinking… one place where we did have room was our driveway. Inspired, I went onto Craig’s List, and within minutes, found a reasonably priced “Sweet Little Fifties Rig.”

I fell head over heels in love with it. Poetically, it was located in Loveland, so I sped down there to look at it. It was even better in three dimensions. The owner commented off-handedly that his wife– who was “really into crystals and stuff”– had declared it had a great vibe. It did have a great vibe! Impulsively, I bought it.

Buying that trailer (in which I’m sitting cozily now) was one of the top ten decisions of my life, right up there with marrying my husband and adopting my son. Especially during those first few harried months as I adjusted to being a new mother, I treasured this space as my own, as the space that belongs to the timeless Laura. Not Laura the wife or mother or teacher or daughter, but Laura who listens to the river flowing just below the surface and taps into it and channels it onto paper.

My love for this writing space multiplies daily. I love the curved blond wood walls. I love the way that I can move just a little and the whole thing rocks like a boat. I love the ritual of getting bundled up in shawls and scarves to write in the winter. (The space heater can’t work miracles.)  In the summer, I love the ritual of throwing on my lightest cotton sundress and aiming the swamp cooler at my sweaty face. I especially love the comfy bed where I can read or doze and somehow feel like I’m working.

When I wave bye-bye to my toddler and husband, shut the trailer door behind me, and settle in at the little built-in table, I enter another world. This space cues my unconscious mind to leave behind the plastic toys and heaps of laundry, and dip into the creative well.

Recently, I tracked down the owner of the outhouse-turned-poetry-shack featured in my beloved, rain-damaged book. Carol Anthony, artist and poet, turned out to be even more fascinating than I’d expected (but that’s another essay altogether). When I asked her about her creative space, she wrote (in an old-fashioned letter!) that it’s part of a way of life. “ART is a way of BEING… The painting, the music, the poem is the footnote.” As artists and writers, we create not only our work, but our lives. Beautifully crafted stories grow out of a beautifully lived lives. She believes that our creative spaces embrace, house, and maintain our artistic visions.

Carol Anthony’s perspective deepened my fondness for my trailer, and made me see that it’s more than a writer’s refuge. Simply walking into my sweet little fifties rig, putting a fresh-cut rose in an old bottle, and sighing over the curve of blond wood are creative acts of their own. The magic is in my visible breath in the winter, my sweat dripping on a manuscript in the summer. The novels that emerge from this sacred space-this artist’s way of life– are simply footnotes.

Websites:

George Bernard Shaw’s rotating writing hut
Outside view: http://flickr.com/photos/ishida/2468301409/in/pool-nationaltrust
Inside view: http://flickr.com/photos/ishida/2469121620/

Trailers not your style?  How about a Gypsy caravan?! And invite me over for tea in it!http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-house-concept/gypsy-caravans/

www.craigslist.org
(I recommend impulsively buying your little rig first, and telling your spouse/partner later.)

A Little House of My Own by Lester Walker
http://www.amazon.com/Little-House-My-Own-Designs/dp/1579121519

Carol Anthony’s art
http://www.cumberlandgallery.com/Artist-Detail.cfm?ArtistsID=589

Laura Resau’s website
www.lauraresau.com

___________

Laura Resau is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novels What the Moon Saw (2006 Colorado Book Award winner) and Red Glass (Winner of the 2007 Colorado Book Award, Américas Award, International Reading Association Award, and an Oprah’s book pick), as well as travel essays anthologized by Lonely Planet and Travelers’ Tales. Her next two novels, The Indigo Notebook and Star in the Forest, will be available in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010, respectively. She lives in Fort Collins with her husband and adorable toddler son, and travels internationally to do research for her books. Please visit her website at www.lauraresau.com.

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