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Report: Americans Quell Existential Dread with Vintage Trailers

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A recent piece in the Home & Garden section of the New York Times, which is consistently the one that most candidly renders the psyche of the modern American, explores the "travel trailer craze," and how its standard-bearers, many of whom keep blogs on the side, are using vintage trailers as a bulwark against the violent waves of existential terror that daily go to work on anyone not already emotionally deadened enough to feel them. Enshrined on Pinterest, Airstreams, Shastas, and the like have achieved "fantasy-object status." For those members of the bourgeoise who have realized this fantasy and acquired one for use as a "roadside bakery stand," a "vacation home on a rustic piece of land," or as a "backyard writing or painting studio," they go a long way toward making personhood somewhat tolerable.

Anna Scribner, who runs a vintage trailer restoration shop with her husband, contextualizes the revival of the vintage trailer within the Tiny House movement, itself a response to the financial crisis. "People love the idea that they own something that nobody can take away from them," she tells the Times. Barring thieves, acts of God, or repossession by the IRS, the vintage trailer is something the modern American (and their dog) knows is actually their own, unlike a home with a delinquent mortgage.

"It's hard to describe the feeling of being inside here," says one Kelle Arvay, a blogger who has bought and renovated many vintage trailers over the years. "It's comfortable. It's a real safe-feeling space." For extra comfort, these metal wombs can be enjoyed with other modern balms: a Netflix-connected Kindle Fire HDX, for example.

J. Wes Yoder, a writer who lives in Nashville, has a renovated '63 Shasta that's been booked on Airbnb nearly every day this year. "A lot of people who stay here talk about how simple it is," he says, with "no TV, no Internet. It's something different." Mark Lucas, president of Shasta, echoes that sentiment: Yoder and others are "trying to replicate a lifestyle they grew up with," to "get back to a simpler time," as one might do by putting on a Fleet Foxes record, or ironically championing the flip phone.

In Lucas' estimation, people are thinking: "Look how cool I can make it, and I can personalize it," as if to say, I am fully realized individual that can meaningfully exert myself in a fundamentally chaotic universe. However, there is a risk of taking that to far, according to the Times: "vintage trailers, Airstream or otherwise, can become addictive." That the word "airstream" is found nowhere in the DSM-V should not be considered a strike against this notion.

· Cuddle Up in This [Curbed National]