It all started on Friday. Well, that’s when I noticed. I thought little of it at first, but vowed to keep my eye on it: a blue-striped Tioga, circa 1990, sans rust (thank G-d) RV. I found it parked across the street in front of my house, this utter eyesore in my otherwise epic, urban, nirvana of a neighborhood. A neighborhood caught between two worlds, mine and it’s Latin American heritage.
I start texting neighbors:
“Do you have friends visiting in an RV?”
I panicked because the part of life I was witnessing from a small distance away had now arrived on my quiet, clean, insolated, cul-de-sac: the community’s displaced residence who live in RVs.
Inside I screamed. Then I went to my cupboard and pulled out my new, unchipped, clean Ikea bowl, a bag of organic chia seeds from Trader Joes, a tub of greek yogurt, a 5lb bag of oatmeal from Costco, Grade A real maple syrup, and pecans and I made some delicious overnight oats for the next morning.
Then I sat down at my MacBook Air laptop, took a swig of my electrolyte water, and watched the RV from my beautiful Craftsman windows, parked just past my legit landscaped front yard that’s filled with fruit trees, succulents, and dog poop, in the house I own.
New construction has upped the value of real estate in my once sleepy town. Not to mention a million national articles in publications like Vogue and the New York Times calling us the trendiest and best place to live. It is as condescending as calling a beautiful older woman on-trend, “cute.” They consider my town some sort of wonderful oddity as we maintain a small town feel in an otherwise big city.
The landlords love the attention, as they renege on leasing contracts and up the rental prices beyond a mortgage payment. And as family and individuals become displaced from the only town they’ve ever known, a drug called methamphetamines has become an epidemic.
Even the feral cats have started to leave.
I’m wondering if I should take a chocolate Babka over and introduce myself.
As I’m watching I see my 90-year-old neighbor walk over to the unsightly home on wheels and pound. A gentleman emerges, there’s a brief discussion and the RV hums to life. I sigh, it’s leaving.
NO! He just moved, to the other side of the street, right in front of my other windows. Dammit, why did we buy a house on the corner?
I want to go out there and find out the haps, but as a woman I’m always hesitant of large vehicles I could disappear inside of with no one being the wiser, so I wait.
Patiently, but with laser focus.
I have watched and waited for three days now, and while I’ve seen the fluorescent glow of light peek through the filmy windshield, I’ve not noticed anyone coming or going, but the one time.
Also, and I don’t know quite how it happened nor do I remember when, but we were elected and still retain the position of Neighborhood watch block captains. Dammit. So, naturally, going on Day 3, everyone is starting to pull us aside and complain:
“¿Qué hacemos con esto?”
“No está bien…”
“Can you do something?”
Sure! I’ll just wave my politically correct magic wand and poof, the poverty will disappear from our street.
And then something happened, the RV purred to life again (and I’m being generous with my use of purr). And it drove away. Out of sight from my window. I looked left from my window and right and I couldn’t see it. I felt relieved. I also felt bad for feeling relieved. But I definitely felt relief.
I saddled up the dogs for a walk and left the confines of my gated yard to the street. And as I steered us to the right, I saw it. The blight on our community, the scourge of our street, the beast on wheels, the RV now parked two houses up.
I walked the dogs over with me and I “admired” the vehicle looking to be “caught.” And I was.
“Hi!” came a booming, male voice.
I jumped, a little too startled since I was officially trying to be seen.
“Hi,” I replied, but was drowned out by the warning barks of my loyal 12-pound companions.
“I’m not staying, don’t worry,” the owner of the RV said smiling, politely. “I’m just visiting family. You don’t mind that I’m parked here, do you?”
I fumbled with trying to say something, but couldn’t figure what to say. He wasn’t asking, but rather telling me I didn’t mind. He wasn’t homeless. He was recreationally traveling in an old RV and parking on streets to avoid fees at the parks. I wanted to scold him. Stand on my soapbox and preach about his lack of consideration for the many homeless locals living in RVs who mind the rules and don’t park on residential streets because it’s illegal and enforced by the community police. And why did he think he had the right to avoid such persecution just because his purpose was vacation?
“Okay,” I cowardly replied, “when are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow,” he smiled again.
I nodded and walked away. I’m glad I didn’t take a chocolate Babka over. This story doesn’t have an ending, but that’s life. I’ll let you know what happens tomorrow. Also, we’re going to make burritos with my neighbor and pass them out in the community later. I know I do it to feel better about the rising number of displaced people – it’s selfish.