Several years ago at at a retreat, one of the Saturday morning roundtable discussion questions was, “ Where is the most interesting place you’ve lived?” The answers were fascinating. One woman’s parents were missionaries, so she had spent her childhood in Africa. Because her father was in the military, another had lived in four different countries while she was growing up. I wasn’t sure how to answer. Then I remembered a very interesting place I had lived: a fifth wheel camper trailer.
When we moved to Branson years ago we were building a house and needed a place to rent for only six months. Most of the landlords didn’t want tenants with children or pets. Since we had three kids and a big dog, we were turned down repeatedly.
A friend offered his camper trailer. This was a true camper trailer, not one that costs more than some homes. It was too small to sleep all five of us so we parked it next to a cabin that wasn’t winterized. Jim wired up an intercom between the cabin and the trailer so we could at least hear what was going on with the kids. The trailer had a kitchen, a sleeping loft and a primitive bathroom of sorts. The cabin had a bunk bed with a trundle and another bathroom of sorts. I was mortified that my kids were living like this. They, however, thought it was an adventure.
If the bathroom was occupied, it was not a problem for the boys. We lived in the woods! The shower was so small it even hit ten-year-old Jason in the chest. Because the temperatures had dipped into the twenties, when I went to the cabin one morning to wake the kids for school, I found them asleep in their snowsuits! I was certain if anyone found this out, the authorities would be called.
I could barely raise half-hearted sympathy as the women laughed at my story knowing my situation was only temporary and by choice. They did agree it was interesting.
Sitting next to me, Lisa was the last to answer. She, her husband and two boys had moved from another part of the state ten years earlier. She taught second grade and her husband was a nurse at the local hospital.
“I really needed a break and this retreat is way beyond my expectations. The food, the wonderful spa and the heavenly beds are something at one point in my life I only could read and dream about. The most interesting place I have ever lived was in a car with my mother. For two years, when I was in high school, we were homeless. When Dad died Mom and I ended up losing everything,” she said. “I guess a car counts as unusual as well as interesting.”
No one knew what to say. That’s the day I fully realized my reality and someone else’s reality can be worlds apart. I experienced a temporary inconvenience. Lisa had been in a seemingly hopeless situation. I was going to move in to a new home and Lisa had just wanted to move out of her mother’s car.
Even though we live on the same earth, we do see and experience the horizon differently. I want to be more sensitive to that.