From Medium: Chapter 9, Standing When The Ground Shakes

*This is the ninth chapter in a story that left off here last week.

I had a dream I was pitching. Not in a game, but that I was just throwing a ball and someone was offering commentary on the side. I don’t know who. I do remember having impeccable form. I remember somehow seeing the muscles in my shoulder work as I was coming over the top of the pitch.

All I heard, over and over, was, “Follow through. Follow through.”

And I saw my arm come forward, and my hand open and come over the top of the ball. Just like a pitcher.

Follow through, the voice kept saying. Isn’t that so odd? Like, how does our brain work like that when we’re sleeping? It’s like sending us code. Regardless, I got the message.

— –

My stomach knew today would have some fireworks. It was anxious from the moment I pulled out of my driveway to go to work. Anxious all the way there. Anxious the entire time I was there. So anxious I got sick, at work.

And I didn’t find out why it was anxious until about 2:20. I got a text from my parents, who were sidelined by a massive accident on the way to my house. They would get there, but not in time for the kids to get home from school. So I messaged my neighbor to see if she could catch them for the five-minute delay it would take my parents. Of course she did.

And then I got a text from that same neighbor that confirmed my stomach’s anxiety.

He is at the school, the text said, and he’s walking them home.

Dammit. He showed up unannounced at school. It’s the type of stuff that scares the shit out of people. Really. He had no reason to show up at their school and walk them home, particularly when he makes a big commotion about making me walk the kids to the school to drop them for him to pick them up.

But he has no problem showing up unannounced at the school and walking them all the way back to our street. While I’m at work. It made me wonder if he knew about the accident that tied up my parents. It was all over the news. It was a big, fat deal. Did he know they were sidelined and would be late? Or was he just being impulsive and selfish, per usual? Or, was he just doing this to show me he could? To intimidate me, his favorite past time?

Then I got another text.

He was crouching behind the bush, the text said.

He has become accustomed to doing that. Crouching behind this ridiculous bush at the end of our street, so we can’t even see him, and when we get close, he stands up. It’s creepy. So creepy my neighbor won’t let me walk to the corner alone, because we can’t tell if he’s there or not.

Then I got another text.

It just said “Buh, bye” and it was accompanied by a photo. The photo was of my other neighbor, and she was chopping that bush to shit. Like, to nothing.

My two neighbors went to a third neighbor’s property and chopped the bush down to almost nothing. And the older lady who lived there came out to help them clean up the branches. She was all in. She knew why, and she agreed.

I mean, could I live in a better place? Could I have a better village? No. I can’t. And guess what? My stomach settled down. And that is just so weird. My gut knew before it even played out.

— –

Why do certain menial tasks give me a boost? Just knowing I can do them. It makes me feel so empowered. There have been quite a few so far.

I’ve figured out how to negotiate with the garage door repair guy who came to change the code on my door. And disconnect his opener. I talked him down from a ridiculous cost to reprogram the remote.

I unclogged the toilet. I knew how to do that before, but never really had to. He did it.

I hung the Christmas lights on the house, outside. I got out the extension ladder, tested the lights, bought the clips and hung them. My neighbor held the ladder on the high points, and slapped his chest when I leaned too far out from the ladder. I scared him a little. But I got those lights hung.

I hooked up and installed a new satellite receiver for the TV. And reprogrammed the remote controls. And installed new boxes on the other TVs. Did that.

I used the sander to sand down the old dresser, repaint it, install new drawer coasters and move it into my room.

I used the drill to sink anchors into the stucco so I could hang a shelf near the front door. And hung a number of pictures throughout the house.

I changed my iTunes password. That was huge. Sounds small, but it’s not easy. And I changed it a second time after he got it and went into the account and changed the name on it.

I figured out the xbox password. Jesus. That was like brain surgery. Not. Even. Joking.

Oh, I can do the grill, too. And, it’s charcoal. So, yeah. And I did the steak medium rare.

And, I snaked my shower drain. Totally disgusting. But I did it. I got this little plastic thing that just pulls everything up. Horrifying. But worth it.

So yeah. I’m kind of macho. And tomorrow I’ll totally slam dunk sugar cookies, which aren’t a guy thing, but are something I struggle with. I mean, if I can snake a drain and use anchors for a shelf, I got sugar cookies.

— –

On the last day of the year, I went for a run. I had my eye on a long run, since for the first time in days, I was running alone. The kids had been riding their bikes with me while they were on Christmas break from school, which means I can only go half the distance. They won’t go the full 3.2 miles.

It was cloudy. And it had been sprinkling here and there, but the clouds parted and I laced up my sneakers to squeak in that run before it started raining again.

Less than a mile in, it started sprinkling. Then it started coming down harder. As I made the final turn, nearing the point where I have to decide if I should go around the loop again, a couple walking on the other side of the road gave me a fist pump in the air.

I shrugged and smiled. And the rain started to let up. So, I went again. And about 100 yards into that, it began to pour. A drenching downpour. Like, relentless.

But I was committed. So, I kept on. And I have to say — here comes my hippie again — it felt like I was washing the year off of me. It really did. Like I was meant to be caught in the rain so I could just wash it all away.

I got home and looked like a drowned cat, but I got my 3 miles in and it never felt better.