Monday, March 28, 2011

And God Said, Meet Thy Neighbors

It was November, cold, rainy and just plain miserable. I was in school full time and my eight year old was looking forward to the holidays. This is the time I decided I could no longer stay in my nine year marriage and was looking for a place to live. Now, I had looked at tons of apartments but have owned a house for years so the idea of going back to an apartment (fishbowl) was not appealing. Some reasons I was looking at them were for the amenities such as indoor pool, gym ( which I know I wouldn't use), free tanning, etc.  In the end, I just could not get myself to rent anything other than a small house in a neighborhood with other neighbors in houses minding their own business. Sorry to say I am not the social type and can go years without knowing some neighbors. I don't know why because when I was young all the neighbors played together and knew everyone's business. Hmmm...maybe thats why.
So I chose this particular house, ignoring the smoke smell and the darkness of it because it had a deck, a yard, three bedrooms and I was all done looking. Sold!
 Now my state of mind was not ideal at this time. Between depression, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, there was just the complete lack of being there at all. My daily movie was Twilight, yes twilight...This is what got me through the summer along with Pride and Prejudice, Miss Pettigrew lives for a day and  therapy...lots. Actually free HBO and Showtime for three months was just what the doctor ordered.
But to go back to moving...It was the weekend before Christmas and one week after finals. So that weekend I had my parents take my daughter and wonderful friends that were going to help me move. Everything was done in one day with a couple pickup trucks and a moving truck. So there I was in my new rented house among boxes...alone. But I had so much to do that staying busy was easy. My first priority was getting my daughters room set up and sheets on beds. I might have even threw the Christmas tree up that day.
Did I mention I have a cat. Well, I have a cat and I am always nervous moving cats to different neighborhoods and letting them outside. We moved once and our cat was hit within a month by a car. So little to say I was very worried, but he needed out because all he did was go around wailing lost and confused. This was more than I could tolerate, so the next morning, my first official full day in my new home I accompanied him to the fully fenced back yard around seven a.m. in my pajamas and slippers to watch him explore. Now in other houses I have lived in, it was very difficult to lock the door behind you without making an effort to do so. However, in this house all the door knobs locked. So unless you unlocked them, you could theoretically lock yourself out, say on a Sunday morning at seven wearing pajamas in thirty something degree weather.
My state of mind was fragile and my attire was not conducive to making a healthy, put together first impression. I know no neighbors and had every intention of keeping it that way. I didn't have my phone on me nor a car key. So there I am not thinking clearly, hysterical and making the great decision to break any window I possibly could. Well who knew that would be difficult...all windows I find out later were broken two tenants ago in a violent rage that ended with a SWAT team or something...bastards. So all the windows were new and doubled paned and locked. So I think well, the garage window is old and maybe was spared breakage leaving it old and breakable now. So off I went to the side of the house to investigate vandalizing my own home on my first day. I find out it is extremely easy and I used entirely too much force throwing the compost lid through it. The sound reverberated through the quiet Sunday morning like an alarm of great proportions going off. But I had to continue, so I managed to climb through the window frame without injury only to find I had locked the garage door to the house. This is when the action hysteria stopped and the hopeless crying began.
The realization that I was going to have to meet a neighbor in my pajamas  early on a Sunday morning having just moved in the previous day was a most humiliating concept and I wondered if I could just stay there and perhaps rearrange the crap in my garage instead, without freezing and no coffee. Nope, not an option. So I wiped the tears, breathed and stopped the shaking, I say from the cold but I know it is from having to meet total strangers I will be living across the street from forever, or a day it didn't matter at that point. I did have to choose a house to go to. I decided on across the street because I actually saw movement there the day before as I had seen none elsewhere.
So off I go across the street practicing exactly what I will say. I have the bad habit of over explaining  things and will not do it this time. So I knock and they answer...good so far. I say hi I am your new neighbor and I have locked myself out of my house may I borrow a sweatshirt and a cell phone? Well they gave me both a sweatshirt and a phone. Although, I had no one to call since I have only memorized two numbers and one was my ex and one my parents...neither would work. I was just standing there out of ideas and a little embarrassed when my neighbor offered to try and open my door for me. What a fabulous idea and so we started back to my house. We were just about at the street when low and behold a police officer was approaching. I thought, great what timing he can help me and what a deal having police patrol the area. So we stop and I wave them down. While waving, from the other direction came two more police cars. Now I am somewhat suspicious that this is not just a friendly drive by but a call in...perhaps for a disturbance sounding a lot like an alarm or more a breaking window.
So now the whole local police department and my neighbors have seen the new kid in the neighborhood in her pajamas. This was absolutely the impression I was trying to make. I thought maybe I have enough stuff still in boxes I can just move out and start anew elsewhere.
The police now want proof that this is my house. Really? Really. Oh my god I'm in more shock and just stand there with my mouth open. I must look like a scary burglar disguised as a single mom parading around in the cold on a Sunday morning. Have I mentioned pajamas?? As we are now all piled into the garage one of the policemen says to another, don't you know how to jimmy a lock? So there are now three big uniformed men standing on my one little step trying to break into what is presumably my house... once I show proof.
Well it worked we are now in my house and I am still at a loss as to what to show that will prove I just moved in. I can't remember my landlords name, or where I put the info. I'm thinking, will they really kick me out? So they decided finally to run my car plates and I guess it said something that helped because they let me stay.
So now that it is over, I make a small effort to meet my neighbors, some of them anyway. I made corn bread for a thank you for the sweatshirt and cell phone and even thanked my next door neighbor for calling the police thinking I was either another scary tenant or being robbed. No cornbread for her however.
So now I know the horrible history of the tenants that lived here before me. I won't go into details, however I will say that I smudged every room more than once to remove bad energy.
 I had a new neighbor just move in a few weeks ago and my daughter and I took her cookies...maybe a humiliating Sunday morning pajama outing was just the thing to make me think twice about ignoring my neighbors.

Turning off the Volume,