Yesterday I had a scare; quite a bad one, in fact.
We’ve been in our new apartment for about three weeks now. During that time we have fallen in love with it. It’s far more spacious than our last–in fact, we didn’t realize until we moved in that it’s wheelchair accessible, which explains the extra wide doorways and hallway–and the view from the back is spectacular. The small woods behind us is a designated wetlands so it’s unlikely it will ever be developed. In the heat of summertime there’s a path from the street leading to a small creek, but apparently, according to neighbors, during the remaining seasons the path gets covered up with a large pond that even attracts ducks! I can’t wait until we can hear ducks quacking and frogs calling, some of the most beautifully peaceful sounds in nature. Over the past couple days I’ve noticed a family of three large raccoons traversing our small yard as well! And birds galore, playful squirrels, and hawks whistling close by.
But sometimes solitude and privacy provide cover for a few nasty-minded people.
I was lying on the couch yesterday morning at six in my jim-jams, eating yogurt and reading my book, when I happened to see movement out of the corner of my eye. In the mornings, when I get up, I like to open the shades and the doors and windows to shoo out the stale night-before air with fresh air, so the sliding door was open a couple feet, as well as the hanging vertical shades. It was a cloudy day and still very dim outside, on the margins of dawn. When I glanced up, I saw a man standing at the edge of our patio, dressed in dark clothes and a hoodie, masturbating. By the time I registered what was happening (I was going to say it took me a couple of beats, but is it too early to joke about this?) and jumped up yelling, “Hey, what are you doing?!” he was gone.
This was weird and disturbing enough, but I had decided to call only the manager about it since what would I tell police? I virtually saw nothing except the color of his clothes and his brown hand, and it was only a nanosecond’s glimpse at that. But an hour later I looked out the back and saw a man on a bicycle ride slowly down the path in the woods, his face turned our way the entire time, and watched him stop directly across from our apartment, stay there a moment still looking, then ride back the way he came. And THAT motherfucking plucked my very last nerve. I was officially freaked. I called the police.
They came over. They took a report. They said they’d check out the woods, but I watched the woods all day yesterday–believe me–and they never stepped a foot back there. That was frustrating, but I knew going in they couldn’t do anything, as I had so little to give them. I just wanted somebody official to know what had happened, for there to be a record of it. Scott said that he’d seen a homeless guy (remember my flippant crack about homeless people living in the woods, in my last post?) digging through the apartment dumpsters a few days ago, a white man on a white mountain bike, who fit the description of the rider I’d seen in the woods, but I don’t think it was the same guy on my patio. I think that was just a strange coincidence, my imagination ramped by my earlier fear. My next-door neighbor Margaret told me that as she was leaving for work in the morning, she’d seen a young black man in a blue hoodie walk around the back of our apartments, so maybe it was him. A group of young people from the section 8 housing across the street often stand in the shady grass in front of our complex, and maybe he’s one of them. I don’t know.
All day yesterday I stumbled through the apartment in a haze of low-level PTSD, but today I’m okay. Mostly. I still can’t help glancing out our windows every thirty seconds but then, I always do that. I like looking outside. It’s just that now my looking is tinged with a little honest-to-goodness guard dog vigilance. And I have to adjust. We’re not living in white-bread suburban Troutdale anymore. We’re not in a rural town in North Carolina, nor in small-town Sandy. We’re in a town annexed to Portland. For all intents and purposes we’re in Portland again, and a part of that city’s challenges. I’ve always kept the doors locked, but from now on, I’ll also keep the shades drawn until I’m dressed. I’m blinkered if I’ll be scared away from the home I love over one small incident. This morning I sat out on the patio and read my book.
You know, the fact that I’ve been rewatching Buffy over the past few weeks doesn’t suck.
One more thing about this, and possibly the best thing. By evening, every single one of our neighbors, from our set of eight apartments anyway, knew what had happened and a few of them had come over to commiserate and ask how I was doing. We have an incredible community here, where everyone knows and looks out for each other. That’s a great comfort.
On to happier stuff. My grandbaby Sol, who’s now fourteen months old and on the verge of walking, has been over a couple times and it’s such a delight to see him cruising everywhere! His parents–my son Jess and his partner Lauren–are neck deep in kitchen renovation and the house is one big construction zone, so there’s currently very little room for him to maneuver in. Now that we live closer he’ll be over more. In fact, he’s coming tomorrow. I love having him here, and he seems to like being with us, so it’s win-win for all.
I’ve been rereading Stephen King’s short stories and am enjoying them thoroughly, but my new library holds have come in so I’ll move on to those. I recently discovered Jesse Kellerman, the son of Faye and Jonathan Kellerman, both established crime fiction writers, and have absolutely loved the two books of his I’ve read so I’ve got one of his father’s books to try. I want to see if the tree doesn’t stand close to where the apple fell, ha ha. I’m hoping I’ll adore the entire Kellerman clan because between them they have about a zillion books.
I’m also feeling a little more spiritually-inclined these days, after a long, very dry period of disbelief in anything beyond what I could see. For some time I’d been holding onto a copy of Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile by John Shelby Spong, despite the fact that I had discarded Christianity a few years ago. The reason is that every time I considered giving it away, I would leaf through its pages and find something interesting. So back it would go on the shelf. I finally read it last week and comprehensively loved it. Bishop Spong is a true revolutionary and I respect his bravery for expressing his honest thoughts regarding the religion he holds dear. He said a lot of wise things but the one that chimed best with me at this time in my life was that we need to drop the idea of God as an external Being, as the Father sky god who lives in heaven, and see God more as a sacred place. YES. I began thinking of God that way a few years ago and in fact, when I talk to God, I use the address “Kiva.” A kiva was a hole in the ground designated for worship by the Pueblo Indians. Here’s a beautiful photo of one, which I’m using as my desktop image.
It makes far more sense for me to see God as a womb, a sacred space tucked deep into the earth–into me, into each of us–than it does to see God as anything else, especially the arbitrary, capricious, exclusionary entity worshiped by so many religions. Everybody thinks their version of God is the Right and Only one, don’t they? I’m not saying mine is either, but it works for me and I was very, very happy to have my small vision reflected in the words of a man I came to admire as I read his book. It’s a joy for me to once more see within myself an incredibly effulgent, divine and vibrant infinite space–one I can dive into anytime for sustenance and inspiration and support, a Holy Ground of Being. My feet feel solid again and there’s an endless font of creativity to pull from. There always has been, of course, but sometimes we can’t truly access it, or can access it only in fits and starts, when we don’t have a visual for it. We human beans need metaphors to help explain stuff sometimes.
Life is good.
I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. Which reminds me… did I mention the glorious fragrance of blackberries that wafts through our apartment? No? And there goes that hawk again. All the little mousies may tremble, and the blue jays may raucously complain, but the piercing whistle of a hawk thrills me to the marrow.
Also, It Follows is one of those insidious horror movies that doesn’t seem all that terribly scary while you’re watching it but then ends up staying with you way, WAY beyond the time it should. Keep that in mind if you’re planning to watch it. I’ve warned you.
Aaand… Buffy forever. :)