My interior demolition of Sparta continues apace, so my self-imposed deadline of month end looks safe. Soon, there will be nothing left of her but aluminum and glass – and those fixtures and finishes I salvaged for her rebirth.
The experience of dismantling this old Spartan has stirred mixed feelings which I had not anticipated. At times, I feel a raw, savage power as wood and trim succumb to my pry-bar. Or, I might feel a giddy glee peeling back layers of silver insulation like an impatient child on Christmas morning. But mostly, I have a sense of respect and, even, reverence for this old relic which has a story to tell.
Sparta is a big time capsule, filled with fragments of the past left behind in haste. I wrote earlier about my nostalgic tendencies and I guess I’m also just curious about Sparta – who built her, who lived in her, why’d they leave? I wonder about the craftsmen who painstakingly assembled her. Was Wally the welder happy just to have a job in post-war Oklahoma? Was Rosie the riveter disappointed that instead of building aircraft for a massive war effort she was now making travel trailers for the rich? Who knows, but whatever their thoughts, I cannot help but be impressed with the quality of workmanship that went into these. What is most striking is the absence of plastic. Basically, any plastic used in Sparta was for a purpose – mostly to insulate switches, wire and plugs to protect its occupants against nasty shocks. Also, just a bit of kitchen and bathroom laminate and that’s it for plastic. Period. I have a friend rehabbing a more modern trailer and Sparta feels like King Tut’s tomb compared to her Barbie House.
I continue to unearth clues as to the former occupants. A friend of mine who has, for lack of a better term, a sixth sense walked through Sparta last week and she left troubled by its energy. She did not sense death and horrific tragedy (probably no ghosts, sorry) but felt that some evil or dysfunction was present. I, lacking in any supernatural powers whatsoever, have felt no such disturbances, but I did stumble across something yesterday that reeked of sadness and hit particularly close to home. I believe a former occupant was alcoholic. As I peeled back a wood cubbyhole under the bathroom sink, I came across an empty bottle of vodka, once hidden. And not just any bottle – an airline mini. You see, I have learned through harsh experience that normal people do not drink straight vodka in the bathroom and, unless they are at 35,000 feet, they most definitely don’t imbibe from tiny bottles. But sneaky alcoholics attempting to avoid detection do – vodka, in particular, because it is “odorless”. Hah! – the fiction. Been there, done that.
Now an addict of any sort living in a trailer is hardly news, but I was moved by this find. It saddened me to know that this trailer may have once housed two tortured souls – one in a constant pursuit of clandestine relief and another living in confusion and bombarded with denials. I think of my long-suffering ex-wife and feel tremendous compassion for her. That she remained hopeful for me for so long despite the mounting evidence of my alcoholism is heartbreaking. I think I need to sit with this feeling awhile before I continue…