Please feel free to skip this entry. I just had to tell this to someone. Anyone. I realize how awful this entry makes me appear but I just can't carry this around anymore.
When I first moved to this house, I had some rather...interesting neighbors. They were a couple in their sixties, I guess. He always wore overalls and tinkered with his trucks and she always kept her hair jet black, no matter what. More often than not, he would stay in the backyard and work on his truck, never saying a word while she stood in the back door and yelled at him. She had a unique way of it, starting out normal but slowing down toward the end: "Ah'm gonna kick. Yore. Aaaaaaassss...."
Now I've taken that guy's place in the neighborhood, except the bar has been lowered. All I need now to be a classic redneck is a snaggle toothed old man with his PBR sitting in an old lazy boy on the porch while his equally snaggle toothed old dog sits chained in a yard under an old crate.
I really think I'm going crazy - or the other person involved is. Either way, I wish I simply had the skill to deal with it. I should have just walked away but for a variety of reasons, all of them wrong, I didn't. Now, the point seems to be moot.
We would usually see each other about twice a week - Thursday and Sunday. She usually drives because I am, in her words, "a wild driver." I started noticing things in the last few months. The first time or two it happened, I just thought it was odd. Then I started to catch on. For example, sometimes she would ask me all kinds of questions about something, like how to get to a certain place. "Turn here? Go straight? What about this light? Turn or straight?" The problem would come when I anticipated the question. She'd turn of me and snarl, "Don't tell me what to do! I'm not as stupid as you think I am!"
Other times, she would get stuck on going to a certain store or restaurant, say, to the same Goodwill or Subway every Sunday or CARES store every Thursday for weeks on end. If I said something about it, she would make it a point that store was the very next stop because she urgently needed something from it.
(Okay, I admit it, I am slow. I should've said, "I am so tired and bored with Plaza Art Supply and the Frist. Don't even think about letting me near those damn boring Meerkats at the zoo and ugh, that same ol' art collection Georgia O'Keefe gave to Fisk. My god, I just can't bear the thought of eating hummus with the fresh tomatoes and pickles at that greek restaurant across from Vanderbilt on 21st...")
Anyway, yesterday was a good example. Things started very well. We were getting along and laughing, especially about how bored I was of going to the local CARES store because we go there Every. Time. We go. Out. She laughed as she said, "You just can't take it anymore, huh?" and I said, "NO!" As we shopped in Portland, she joked a bit about how broke she was. She forgot to stop at the bank that morning and she may have to borrow some from me. Okay. No problem. I was also joking about some laundry I needed to do while we were out.
Remember what I've said here.
Not fifteen minutes later, we're pulling into the CARES parking lot. "I just need to find some jeans to go with a shirt I have." I should have just stayed in the car. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference. I don't know. I just know that one quick look told me that it was same stuff I'd seen the last few times we visited.
After that, she got more and more quiet. She only spoke to me long enough to borrow five dollars for lunch and this sparkling conversation:
"Do you want some of my chicken?"
"Not really, why? Do you want to trade for some of my fries?"
(as she shrugs her shoulders) "No. Are you taking your burger with you or eating it here?"
(I'm thinking, "huh?") "Does it matter?"
"I only asked a question! I didn't ask to have my head bitten off!"
I tried to start a conversation once or twice and it was like I wasn't even there. That's how it was all the way home, until a pickup came up behind us on a back road. She literally started snarling about "those damn bright lights. I can't see the road!" and it progressed, somehow, to me. It started out as: "Next week, you can take the car but I won't be going. I'm cutting back on my trips." and it ended up as "I am 62 years old! I can't even have a life because of you! I'm tired to staying broke buying gas, carrying your freeloading loser ass everywhere! I'm 62 years old!" She kept screaming that: "I'm 62 years old! I'm 62 years old!"
I knew what was coming but I stepped right into it anyway. "What does your being 62 have to do with anything?"
Now she's screaming as loud as she can. "Do you think I like hauling your loser ass around? I can't even have a life because you need the car!"
"What are you talking about? It's your car, you have it 24 and 7. You can do whatever you want! Anytime!"
It's been over twenty something years since I've seen her in a rage. Even so, this one surpassed anything I remember from back then. She started screaming even louder about all my faults. No matter what I said or did, she screamed louder and louder so she can't hear me even when I'm screaming back. I'm a loser with a bad attitude who bosses her around and if she had someone to help her raise a such a rotten thing instead of a wimp, things may have turned out differently. (This is the person who once declared, "I'm never getting angry ever again. It's not worth getting that upset over anything.")
I'm not blameless in this. I fell right back into that pattern that hasn't seen the light of day in twenty something years and I surpassed it. During all this rage, I went from feeling like I was a powerless, confused ten year old again to the one thing I said I never wanted to become - hateful, abusive and crazy. I gave just as bad as I got and I had a hell of a lot of memories to draw on.
(So go ahead, world. Throw whatever you want at me. I don't think you punish me any worse than what I'm feeling. I let myself down by becoming exactly like her. All my hard work over the years to fix myself, gone in an instant.)
Mind you, we're still on the back road while all this is happening. When we got back to my house, things got even more out of control. She got out, fueled by the fact that I slipped up, stood in my driveway and started screeching about how I am ruining her life and I am never bossing her around ever again. I could have caused a wreck back there with my crap. She can't even go to CARES without me worrying her to death. She'll go where she pleases, when she pleases and there's not one thing I can do about it. "Do you think I like sitting around while you do your filthy laundry? Do you think I like sitting in the car while you do your shopping in Wal Mart? I don't even feel like talking and you just keep yakking away! Yak! Yak! Yak! GET YOUR JUNK OUT OF MY CAR SO I CAN GO! I AIN'T EVER COMING BACK!"
All the while, I'm on one side of the car, trying to do exactly that and I can feel myself shutting down. All I can say is, "What are you talking about?!" She's on the other, grabbing what she could of the stuff I bought and was throwing as hard as she could down the driveway. Still screeching how horrible I am and she ain't ever puttin' with it ever again to the whole wide world. Then she sat in my driveway for at least twenty minutes and I spent the next two hours waiting for the cops I was sure would come. I just didn't know what they would be told - that I tried to murder her, I assaulted her or we were simply disturbing the peace and I was worse than the armpit of Satan. I was honestly surprised when no one showed up.
Now, despite everything, I can't help feeling overwhelmingly relieved. It's over.
I have to say though...in a bizarre way, all that screeching was pretty incredible considering the cold she had. I bet there'll be stories for years to come: "It was a cold January night when the Banshee started screaming, all the way from hell..."