Started From the Bottom Now We Here

Mama D stuck around for about a week after baseball had ended. I suppose she was waiting to see if we were actually serious about staying in that RV, with no jobs, no income, and two hundred bucks in the bank (possibly an inflated number). I’m not sure how there was any confusion though. I had only driven out there two weeks prior and despite what people thought, I was happy. I was happy. I. Was. Happy. I was happy?

In a true testament to the faith she had in us, Mama D left us with her credit card for “emergency purposes.” Pretty sure my whole life was an emergency at this point so while that was very thoughtful of her, and admittedly a life saver, it might have been the second worst idea of her life. The first – obviously being the idea of driving a BMW into the Compton of Mexico, which I’ve clearly moved on from so well. Look at me laughing – ha ha ha. Ha. We dropped her off at Yuma International Airport, which is arguably smaller than Bintliff’s waiting area on a Sunday morning, and got ready to embark on this new chapter of our lives. We went straight to our local grocer’s – Walmart – and swiped Mama D’s VISA for some groceries.

Our lives were pretty monotonous for the next few weeks. While Anthony slept in until noon, I would: wake up, boil water for instant coffee, apply to twenty jobs a day, work on my Kaplan University master’s degree (which I enrolled in to make myself feel better about quitting life), and have some sort of cereal for breakfast. I assume it was for breakfast anyway. I never saw the light of day in that RV though because we had to block off every window from any ounce of sunlight. If we wanted to attempt survival in that tin can in the summer, then it had to be done. We taped the silver, hand cut panels up with this special aluminum tape, which gave paper cuts like a machete, but hey, we didn’t have to see the sun. Ever. So  I could have been having my Fruity Pebbles at midnight for all I knew, but luckily with the invention of time I could verify my whereabouts in life without a stick in the ground and the sun’s casted shadows.

One afternoon, when the everyday trip to Wal-Mart wasn’t enough to satiate our boredom, Anthony and I decided it was time to overhaul Grandma’s interior aesthetics. We realized that there was just no winning when it came to some parts of Grandma. For instance, we knew that going to the bathroom would always mean sitting with our knees just below our chin on top of a glorified hole in the ground. We knew that showering, especially for Anthony, was the hardest leg workout we would do all day while we attempted to stay positioned under the shower head. Otherwise, the average spot of contact with water while we stood up straight was right about at our stomachs. And of course, like everything else in the RV, it was always pitch dark in there unless we removed the panel from the ceiling vent. Since we also kept the bathroom door shut to conserve air conditioning during the day, it was “hotter than a witches tit” in there, which Anthony always likes to say, but to this day I still don’t know why witches’ tits are hot. Either way, if we were sitting down in there for longer than a couple minutes, we had to leave the door wide open and position a fan on the kitchen counter directly across from us to stay cool. This wasn’t too much of a concern when I was in there because I poop roses, but Anthony often engulfed the entire RV with a stench that made me need to step outside and dry-heave. Even a courtesy flush did him no good because instead of flushing away the toxic waste like a normal toilet, all it did was open the hole to the stinky poop chute.

So accepting the things we could and could not control, we headed to Home Depot to grab some materials for much needed home improvements. We picked out about fifteen cinder blocks, three carefully measured pieces of plywood, a shower curtain rod, four screws, and a patio bench cushion. Standard necessities for remodeling a home. The employees gave us some pretty peculiar looks when I whipped the BMW into Home Depot’s loading area and Anthony started heaving the cement blocks into my trunk. They’d probably never seen a BMW in Yuma before. I was happy to bring some culture to their lives.

Back home on the range, we got right to work. We ripped the couch and the chair out first. That only took three hours because they were bolted into the floor and the walls of the RV and I had left my pink tool kit at home in Maine. We recruited our neighbor, who happened to be a jack of all trades, to help us get the final pieces of the chair removed so we could lay our new “wood flooring” down. At the time I didn’t know he was like seventy years old, so I didn’t flinch much when he climbed under Grandma with no shirt on in the one hundred and ten degree heat. Guy was a champ, I’ll tell ya that. I sure as shit wasn’t risking my life under that RV, and I was a budding example of good health. Fruity Pebble eatin’ diabetic right here, folks. But I trusted that suspension and those tires to stay put as much as I trusted that Anthony was going to have a job in the next six month, so we let the neighbor do work and finally got everything torn out. We had a nice, wide-open pallet of dark brown eighties carpeting to work with that only had to be replaced six to ten years prior.

First things first. I installed my walk-in closet right behind the driver and passenger side seats. This part would appear to have been easy, but Grandma’s walls weren’t exactly solid. Every time we’d screw in a screw, it had a ten minute shelf life before it just ripped away from the eroded walls. I was adamant about this upgrade though so we found enough spots to screw into that would eventually keep the rod in place. Then we moved on to our new sofa. We placed the cinder blocks in the four corners of where the couch used to be, plus two in the center for support. We put the wood slab on top of that for the base of our new couch, and topped it off with the on-clearance, patio chair cushion. The real innovation of this idea was the fact that we could slide out the cinder blocks just a bit more, blow up the air mattress, and have a place to watch TV together in the living room. Oh, didn’t I mention we had a flat screen in there? Yeah, a twenty-seven incher that we could only hear if we turned off both air conditioners and our four fans. And that neighbor of ours had a portable Direct TV satellite too, so we jacked some free cable and were set for date night movies in the living room. Where the chair used to be we created a platform out of – you guessed it – wood and cinder blocks, and put the portable air conditioner on top of it. Below it we had created storage room for shoes, DVDs, and whatever else we couldn’t fit in the three cubby holes out back. We were really upping the resale value of this baby!

The final result of our one-day efforts was a low-budge, pimp-my-ride RV. All we were missing were spinners on the tires. And our sanity. I know you’re all wondering how we could accomplish such lavish upgrades in that short amount of time, but we’re just really dedicated people I guess. Plus, the new series of ‘Bachelor Pad’ was starting that night and we wanted to be comfortable for our viewing premiere. I won’t hesitate to confirm that Anthony liked that show as much as me. Maybe more. With minutes to spare, we settled into our upgraded couch/guest bedroom with our paper-plated dinners and flipped on the show. We laughed at all the drama that ensued in a two-hour window, completely oblivious to the train-wreck life we were currently living ourselves. At least those people on Bachelor Pad were getting a paycheck to be nuts.


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