Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The “Crazy Old Lady” and the Fork in the Road

In 2010 I stood at a fork in the road, knowing it was “tine” to make a choice.  One direction was to give “happily ever after” one more chance. The other direction was to become the neighborhood “crazy old lady.” I’d had some experience on both those roads. First, a “happily ever after” marriage that ended badly after 16 years, left me a single mom to three teenagers. Until a few miles before the fork in the road, raising them had been my 24/7 devotion. Now, as they all had left the nest, I realized I had to step back a bit, leaving me some space to map out the rest of my life.

As far as becoming that “crazy old lady,” I tried that out not too long after the divorce, right after the kids and I moved into a “handyman special” house. Abandoned for a number of years, the house had to be dug out from accumulated leaf litter, overgrown shrubbery and trash. The landscaper I had helping me even ruined one of his machines running over some old pipes hidden under the leaves.

One day a crowd of beer-drinking young men and large dogs began gathering in front of my house. Concerned, but realizing they were on the sidewalk and not my yard, I silently kept an eye out. The dogs did not look friendly. The crowd grew larger. Occasionally, they glanced at my house, the car in the driveway and other signs of life. I started to wonder if something had been going on in my yard during its time of abandonment. Something like dog fighting.

Then, a beer bottle sailed through the air, and landed not far from my front door. “Oh no you didn’t!” I thought as I grabbed the nearest weapon, a broom. I burst through the screen door like Xena, the Warrior Princess, shrieking at the top of my lungs.

In my mind, I was shouting something akin to “People live here now!”  I am not sure that is what they heard, but the idea was clear. The crowd parted for me. The bottle throwing party was apologizing. I gestured to the bottle for him to pick it up. “Yes. Ma’am” he said. The air was full of the sound of slamming car doors and engines starting and then roaring away.  Finally, silence.

I went back into the house, triumphantly, expected accolades from my children. Instead they were all sprawled out on the floor with the dog. They, apparently were waiting for some sort of violent revenge from the dog-fighters. But they never returned. Today I like to think that if I had called the police or even tried to politely reason with them, that the results would have been different. Something about a “crazy old lady” was scarier than anything else.

So, in that respect, the "crazy old lady" road had been more successful for me. Yet, I reasoned that I had never really given “happily ever after” a real try after my divorce. After thinking long and hard, I decided to give love one more try, with “crazy old lady” being the default if nothing worked out. Quite possibly, either road could eventually land me in the same place, so I kept my broom handy. And set off to find the Love of My Life, if there was one.

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