My first year out of my undergraduate, I lived by myself three hours from my parents, five hours from Wole and college friends. My only friends around were the church choir members in their late thirties and early forties. Even worse I worked during the week and Wole worked weekends. Needless to say, it was not an easy year, but it was where my job search had landed me.
The town was small enough I had had to rent a house, because no apartment complexes existed. The funny part was this was the big town half an hour away from my actual teaching gig. There was a Wal-Mart and JC Penny’s so we were big balling. The house I rented was a tiny little two bedroom, one bathroom that was the perfect size for me and my cat, even if it did have scary features like a giant heating grate in the living room that was the only heat for the house and a giant glass front door. Oh yeah, and the maintenance man that lived in a trailer across the street with constantly red rimmed eyes, who would only be paid for his mowing services in cash and I’m pretty sure got into my car to steal change to feed his meth addiction.
Okay looking back, I’m not sure how I wasn’t scared to death constantly, particularly since I scare ridiculously easily. I won’t even watch trailers for horror movies, because I freak out and my imagination runs wild. (Chucky commercials that a 7 year old with stuffed animals everywhere can see! That’s just cruel!) I just really tried not to think about the scenarios that would scare me, ran a huge box fan for white noise while I slept, and always talked to Wole right before bed. Plus, I had my attack cat for protection, who for six years had demonstrated she clearly had an evil streak that could be unleashed on an unsuspecting intruder.
Still I managed to have some run-ins that left me shaking. The most memorable occurred partly because of the aforementioned huge glass door in my living room. I had taken to nightly yoga sessions before bed (I love you Rodney Yee) and was in the middle of downward facing dog in my cami and pj pants when there was loud knock at the door. My usual tactic would be to hide and pretend no one was home, but since I was clearly visible through the thinly curtained door this cowardly plan could not be enacted. Even though there was a chain on the door, I stupidly opened the door the whole way to find an inebriated 20 something man with a shaved head standing in front of me. As I mentioned in a previous post (Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder), the biggest black gangster doesn’t scare me (50 cent how can I take you seriously as a thug when you have the cutest little boy cheeks), but rednecks send chills of fear down my spine.
“Is Vanessssaa hurrr?” the man in the grey t-shirt slurred.
“Um, no Vanessa lives here, this is my house.” I replied, hoping this would be the end of the conversation, but nope.
“I could a sworn this is wur she told me she lived,” his glazed eyes staring off and then refocusing on me. “Well, ain’t you a purty thing. What a nice surprise finding such a purty thing at the door.”
Right then terror took over from the disgust of this man obviously looking for his girlfriend, now hitting on whoever came to the door. I blame the terror for all the stupid decisions that followed. Instead of slamming the door in his face I froze and he kept right on talking.
“You got a boyfriend?”
Instead of replying, “Yes. He’s a huge body builder with anger and jealousy issues who will be home any moment now.” I spoke the truth, “Yeah, but unfortunately it’s a long distance thing.”
“If I were your boyfriend, I wouldn’t leave such a beauty alone,” with a tone that I’m sure in his wasted state he thought was seductive. At that moment I was sure I was about to be assaulted and still I didn’t slam the door or tell him what he could do with his advances. I have no idea how long he stood there or if I managed to squeak out any reply. He was far too sloshed to read my terror, but finally he registered the awkward silence and called out, “Well this certainly was a nice surprise,” and stumbled away.
I immediately called Wole and had him talk me down from my blinding fear. Wole calmed me down using soothing tones and waited until later to chastise me for all the ways I could have handled that better. Looking back, it could have been a lot less terrifying if I had been more in control of the situation and seen the drunk guy for the lost goof ball that he was.
While I still don’t buy into the idea that you need to live by yourself for a year, like most of my family tried to tell me, as I look back I did learn some things about myself and I made some mistakes to learn from. If some drunk man ever appears at my door I’ve got this, although I am glad there is no more huge glass door to give me away!