~:: And when it’s not normal . . . ::~

Monday was a weird day. Such a weird day.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much to throw you off, just a little something that isn’t right, something a little off register. So it really started on Sunday, when we got back from church. When the kids were little, we installed a log rail fence all around the front of the yard. When we got dogs, we had to cover the inside of the log fence with wire, to keep the dogs in. Because of Tuck, who could easily leap three times his height (I shoulda trained him for agility), we added all kinds of interesting bits to the top of the fence; the final result – a charming junk yard air.

When we put in the log gate, Guy cleverly used a piece of bike stuff, a sort of solid loop made of sturdy wire. When we drop it over the gate’s post, the gate closes snuggly.  When we both leave, we add this extra chain that goes around the fence post next to the gate – just in case some salesman comes down the street. I always feel a little silly, a little paranoid, fastening the snap on that chain. But Tuck – if he could get out of the fence, he’d be gone, and that would break my heart.

So when we went to church we chained the gate. There wasn’t a lock on it (there is now), we just clip the chain, clip on the inside of the gate. It’s hard for me to do; I’m not quite tall enough to reach over. So G did it – in a hurry, as we always are when we’ve got to be someplace on time. Church was great, and I was feeling pretty good as we came home – until we pulled into the driveway and saw that the gate was open.

My heart just stuttered. When I got out of the car, I saw that the gate was still chained. G had linked it loosely. Someone had pulled up the loop that holds the gate closed and then pulled the gate as wide as they could before the chain stopped it. Then they’d left it that way. We had no way of knowing how long it had been open – open enough for two small dogs to get through without much trouble at all.  And why? Who?

I saw Toby as I got out of the car, but he was barking that high little alert bark he uses when Tuck gets out. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but people who have animals will know the complete terror that hit me in that second – my private business and space violated, and my dog gone.  But as I called him, Tuck came running around from the back yard.  So it was all right. But I didn’t feel all right for hours.  And I still don’t, wondering who had been there on my driveway, messing with my gate.

I got up Monday, ready to get back to my projects—last week was all about the new baby and her family. And taxes. I had to remember to get to the accountant. But I couldn’t really get started. So I decided to take care of the tax stuff. I spent a pleasant few minutes shooting the breeze with the lovely and amazing Kim, wrote out the check for the gov. Got back in the car to run one more errand and turned on the radio.

They were talking about ambulences.  About a big tent, and the ambulences backing in, driving out so that others could back in. It took like two minutes before I could ascertain that this was not local – and then another few before I realized it was the Boston Marathon. It was surreal. And it wasn’t real to me till I got home, after watching hours of news.

Meanwhile, I get this Facbook notice that somebody I hardly ever hear from had shared a photograph – which turned out to be a composit of two pictures of a fourteen year old girl and a notice that she was missing. This is a child going to the school where Chelsea teaches. She’d left home to walk to school at eight that morning. The school called her home at 3:30 to tell her parents she hadn’t been at school at all that day. Hundreds of people, including Rachel and her husband, streamed into the streets of that neighborhood, looking for this girl – some all night.

How many open gates do you need in one 24 hour period?

And then later that afternoon, we went with Chaz to look at houses. She’s a poor teacher, looking for a decent neighborhood.  But the house in the first neighborhood was WEIRD, all chopped up and dark inside.  And the renters living in it had the flu and hadn’t gotten the message we were coming, and it was awkward. And there were viruses.  And the next house was in a neighborhood with yards full of rusting junk and – it was kinda scary, actually.  So that wasn’t  quieting at all.

So we went home, huddled around the news, like it was a fire on a freezing day. It was a mistake – we heard suppositions and misinformation. The second the anchor person comes on, you leave the room to do what you need to do, because you know you’re not going to hear anything from the Anchor except talking-head stuff. And finally, you have to turn it off and live your life. Which I was doing till late. Not much accomplished that day, and brain busy, I stayed up after G went to bed, stupidly trying to concentrate on my work.

Then I heard the sound of a motor.  In the air. Not that unusual since we live a couple of miles from the city airport and a helecopter training facility. But they aren’t really allowed to fly in our airspace, so you usually don’t hear these things come close. Some time last year we heard a helecopter overhead – that came closer and closer – and hovered. The whole house was full of the vibration of it. I was – of all places – in the shower – and heard this thing like it was in my backyard. So I stretched up to peer out the narrow window – and saw a helecopter – not in my backyard, but right across the river, maybe 125 feet away. Yeah, that’s not weird, being in the shower and looking straight at the pilot of a black helecopter.

And it was the same that evening – me, tucked into my corner of the couch, and this sound getting closer and closer and then right overhead, where it stayed. I was too tired to move, and too confused. And I found that I was reminding myself I didn’t live in Vietnam, that the sound over my roof didn’t have to be threatening, but I felt fear inside, all up and down myself. Holding still, feeling this fear rise. It went away, then came back, then went away.

I was still sitting there, I think probably in some little state of shock – just from the whole day’s weidness, when I heard Guy shout upstairs. Sometimes when he dreams, he makes these half muffled shouts. And I thought that’s what it was. Usually just one or two sounds he makes in these dreams before he wakes himself up. But I heard it again. And then again – louder, and I started up, suddenly wondering if he was having a heart attack or something. Then this giant yell, and I ran up the stairs and shouted his name.

This sheepish, drowsy voice answered me. He was fine. He’d been dreaming of a lion. Scaring it away – from Marvin, actually, who had been asleep on a yard swing—who  remained blessedly, it seems, unaware of lion, Guy and the helecopter over head.

If you could be certain that there are walls around days, defining them as discrete – you could pick up a day, put it in a drawer, and be done with it.  That is not, of course, what life is like on this planet. I think I am still shaken by all of this. Not terrorized, just awakened, as anyone who has had their “normal” world disrupted, to the fact that you cannot expect the lovely things to be safe from intrusion. Certainly the people of Boston have not put anything in a drawer yet. And “disrupted” is, for them, a wild understatement.

That said, I did sleep that night. And I woke up the next day and got back to business.  Until I had that dream Wednesday night – but there you are.

end note:

The helicopter? Searching for the little girl, up and down the river.  The horrible thought of finding her in the river . . .. That’s why it was at nearly ground level. If I had had anything left, I’d have gone to the window, or outside, to try to see what was going on. But it was all too surreal.

The little girl was found the next morning a couple of cities to the north. Nobody has told us why she was there or how she ended up there. But she was fine—after a night of her parents’ anguish. If this was somebody running away from home – I’d like to shake her selfish little self till her teeth rattle.

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28 Responses to ~:: And when it’s not normal . . . ::~

  1. Donna says:

    I’m not sure what is wrong with me, but it seems like your last three posts have been so big that I can’t even respond to them in any meaningful way…times like this make me sad that we don’t live closer together and can’t hold each other’s hands when we need to. You often speak my heart when I don’t have words. When I am feeling shallow or hollow, your words fill me. I know this isn’t really a response to this post, but it is a response to you…from me. <3

    • K says:

      They’re long because I’m not doing anything to take pictures of. I’m immersed in books and old records and old lives, and sometimes they make me cry. So all I am is thought. My fingers are for typing in this period of time, I guess. And yes, I wish we lived closer. But even Rachel and I are so focused on our jobs (our life jobs) that we haven’t even done much more than say Hi at church. And it’s freezing again. And I just want things to settle down and be regular for a little while. Just a little bit.

      • Donna says:

        I wasn’t complaining about their length. And I love that we are such different people and still find a common place to love… I could never spend the time doing the genealogy … and you could never do as little in a day as I sometimes do…

        • K says:

          Oh, I knew you weren’t. And you’re right. I don’t know how to do very little. But I think, knowing you, that you do more than you think. Perhaps I can be called Martha and you can be Mary – there is a piece of peace I am missing somehow. I make up for it by never holding still.

          • Donna says:

            Me sitting and listening while you cook? I vote yes for this. I am very busy right now sewing a wool applique crazy quilt…Noah’s Ark…CAN HARDLY wait to show you.

  2. Rachel says:

    I love your response Donna. It is perfect.

    Little girl did indeed run away. As you said, rattling of teeth if she were mine…….

    Poor you! Driving up and seeing the gate open and the panic you felt and then the feeling after knowing somebody violated your space! I hate that feeling!!!! You know me, we didn’t use to lock our doors. We do now. Makes me sad that I even have to!! And when I go running I search all bushes and rushes and trees for creepy crawlies of the two legged kind. What kind of a world is that to live in?

    The day of the bombing my baby sis called and asked me how publicized the Utah Valley marathon was. I told her not to worry. I’d be fine. Sad that she worries though……. Wish the Savior would hurry up!!

    • K says:

      ME TOO!!! And you think I’m not going to have my eyes open for duffel bags at the finish line? You BET I am. I don’t like it. I want lions and lambs to get along, and all the evil people who take children like this and wrench their minds into warped and evil shapes would all die at once. Just – WHOMP, all fall over dead at the same second. Then God can deal with them. Like lancing a wound – all the rot inside comes outside and can be wiped up and disinfected. And you’re running. No runners were hurt, I think.

      • Rachel says:

        So run with me. :D

        A plague. That’s what we need. Another plague. Paint over your door and we’ll be fine.

        • K says:

          Meh. There’s more chance I’ll be dead at the finish line if I did. And yes. I’ve thought about that. But you have to kind of hope you’d be on the list of people who got the memo about the lintel thing.

          • Donna says:

            That made me laugh…the running would increase the odds of me being dead at the finish line part….I would be dead way before the finish line if I tried to run.

            • K says:

              Well, me too. I was just sorta stretching out the experience for the sake of irony. About three minutes in – whooosh.

    • Donna says:

      Come, Lord Jesus!

  3. Donna says:

    Not a minute too soon…

  4. Dawn says:

    I’m glad the girl was found. I saw something on FB about her too, way up here in Washington. You phrased it well, what you said about open gates. It has been a strange week for all of us.
    Thank you for those kind words that you left on my blog, about my father-in-law. You are a sweetheart.

    • K says:

      Could this week be fun? Full of pleasant and delicious surprises? Something wonderful happening? Something happy and full of relief? Probably not – except the fact that we are loved and cared for – that’s always news, somehow – and should be the best of all things. I wish I could leave more than words.

  5. Julie says:

    Here’s hoping that unsettling days are extremely few and far between for you dear Kristen. I’m so glad that Tuck was safe and sound and that some of the unsettling events have been resolved. Lovely to hear about the arrival of the new baby though and I am itching to know more details. Love and best wishes to all and hopes for no more weird days xxx

    • K says:

      I would turn that hope around on you, darling girl. I ready to feel settled for just a bit. But you can’t count on that, can you? Not when you fill your life full of people who are alive and inscrutable and even scrutable to a reasonable degree. I read your blog and saved it to comment on. But I haven’t done it yet. No. It was because I wanted to email you instead. I’m on one of those flat, moving sidewalk things – you take one step, and suddenly, you’ve covered yards of ground, and your intent is lying on its face somewhere long behind you – I wish us both days that are weird enough to be fun, but fun enough to bring us peace.

      • Julie says:

        Oh, I know that walkway well, it carries me along at times too and deposits me far from all of the things I had intended on doing. I’ve been making so many lists to myself recently in an attempt to stay on top of things but that is all I seem to be accomplishing – just endless lists without ever managing to tick things off! Peaceful days sound good and I wish some arrive at your door soon xx

  6. Patti says:

    These past few weeks has reminded me that life is like a vapor. So many changes in my life the past few weeks my head is spinning. My brother was diagnosed with cancer last year and now my sister who is 58.My daughter n law was in Boston but was not injured! It really puts your priorities in perspective. BTW, I am glad the little girl was found! Much love and hugs from MO Cuz!

    • K says:

      It is, isn’t it? I’m sorry to hear about your sister. These things are so surreal. Thank heaven your d-i-law was out of harm’s way. But even being in the city over that period of time would feel like being on another planet. The rest of the world would laugh, reading that – that what they have to deal with every day is so shockingly strange to us. But we are fierce people, and we won’t stand for it. When most of us are obeying the law, those who don’t are easier to see – they don’t move the way we do. Because their thoughts are dark and their intents and focus are different. I hope your sister is fierce in this. And I send hugs back to you, out there in paradise.

  7. wsw says:

    The school didn’t call until 3:30???? I dearly hope they are reviewing their policy. What a relief to hear the girl was found safe. And that your dogs were safe. That feeling of violation is a difficult one to shake. I’ve experienced several break-ins and to this day, decades later, my sense of safety is negatively impacted.

    Am I really almost a month late in reading this post?

    • K says:

      We had two break-ins when we lived in New York. My parents and us kids, I mean. Both of them happened when we were at church. I remember coming home the second time and finding cigarette butts on our front porch – which was very weird. We lived in a lovely cape cod at the very head of what would be considered the neighborhood on a county road that spun itself out between the dense forest of a park preserve on one side and a fenced estate of the same forest on the other side – for miles. Our house was the first one along the settled part of the road. We had 3/4 of an acre at the edge of the woods – the trees staggered through our yard and petered out beyond. One neighbor to the far side, two neighbors along the back – about two hundred fifty feet behind us. We could only see the houses back there when the leaves came off.

      We didn’t smoke. So how would someone end up dropping more than one butt on our front steps? We went into the house and didn’t see anything amiss. Till we tried to watch Wonderful World of Color (Disney) that night. No TV. And the movie camera and projector were gone. Whoever it was had gone through the house and neatly nicked everything worth selling. The first time it happened, it was (we think) kids down the block – the emptied everything out of the kitchen cabinets onto the floor and pawed through all the drawers.

      Both times, I was scared to go upstairs by myself. For a long time.

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