“I was worried about transmitting the coronavirus to my mom, so I moved into a trailer in the driveway”
Last fall, I moved back in with my mom to save up money to buy my own place. I work as an emergency room nurse in Sarnia, so I understood that I was going to have to be careful to make sure I didn’t expose my mom, who’s in her 60s. At first, I thought we could practise social distancing within the home. I live in the basement with my own bathroom, and we thought we’d be able to manage—my mom could leave a sandwich at the top of the basement stairs. I haven’t been home much, anyway, working long shifts for three out of four days.
The first day Justin Trudeau addressed the country, I realized I might have to make alternate arrangements. My brother called me right after that and said he was worried about our mom’s safety, as well as that of our 94-year-old grandmother, who my mom visits several times a week.
He remembered that his best friend has a trailer he wasn’t using. Only in a crisis would my mom be okay with having a 30-foot trailer in our driveway. It’s actually pretty nice, though: it’s a Cherokee Fifth Wheel that attaches to the back of a car or truck. I moved in last Tuesday. By that I mean I brought the essentials—clothing and toiletries and food—from inside my house. I didn’t do any decorating, but I put my own sheets on the bed and put a family photo up on one of the shelves.
The space sleeps five: there’s a queen-size bed, where I sleep, and a bunk bed with a double on the bottom. I have heat, a stove, a microwave, a small fridge and a flat-screen TV. I’m an outdoor kind of girl. I camp a lot, I portage. Trailer life is definitely not “roughing it” for me—more like glamping. I got running water this week, which means I’ve been able to use the sink and shower. Before that, I’d been doing my dishes and showering in my neighbour’s pool house.
This weekend I had a day off—my first since moving into the trailer. I started a 1,000-piece puzzle called “Underwater Dogs.” The house Wi-Fi doesn’t reach the driveway, which is a bummer, but I have a DVD player. I managed to get my hands on Harry and the Hendersons. I’ve never been tempted to watch it on Netflix. But suddenly I’m relying on friends dropping off old DVDs, and it’s like, Harry and the Hendersons! Amazing!
Most days, the trailer is just a place for me to eat and sleep. I leave for work around 6 a.m. and don’t get home until after 8 p.m., totally exhausted and emotionally drained. It’s been hard—and even harder for my colleagues who have kids at home, and are having to make decisions about whether to be around them. I’m lucky I don’t have to deal with that. And I can still be close to my mom. We chat on the phone and on FaceTime. If I need something—the other day I needed a cheese grater for the parm on my Caesar salad—she just puts it outside the front door.
She is also taking care of my dog, Roxy Lu, during the day. When I leave for work, I open the garage door and Roxy runs inside the house, and when I get home, my mom lets her out the front and into the trailer. From everything I’ve read, there is no transmission through animals, so that’s one bright spot. Roxy is a certified companion dog. Before the outbreak, I would take her into nursing homes and to visit special-needs children. We’re not doing any of that in the middle of a pandemic, but I am definitely leaning on her to keep me company.
Like everyone else, I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation. It’s not easy. I had a hard day at work the other day. All I wanted was a hug and to sit in my favourite swivel chair in the kitchen and talk to my mom about it. But this is just temporary. Mostly, I’m incredibly proud to be a health care professional and to be making a real contribution. I have a day off again tomorrow. My plan is to work on my puzzle and do some laundry. There is a side entrance to my house where I can go in, wash my clothes, then wipe everything down when I’m done. I’ve been hanging my nice things to dry in the trailer. Not that I know when I’m going to have a chance to wear them again, but I’m sure we’ll get there eventually.