Where Do We Go From Here?

A lot has happened in the past few weeks that make it hard to look forward to the holidays. I struggle with balancing the need to be supportive and strong with being emotional and afraid. Both are valid feelings. Both hold powerful emotions. I have to truly take pause and evaluate constantly.

Let’s start with my birthday. October 20 came and went uneventfully. I turned 42 and thus far everything is great. I have three cats, a great career, and loving and perfect husband. Yay me.

The following night at one in the morning Benjamin and I are playing on our computers in our office which is the center back part of our house. We hear the first pops, followed by second, then third, then several more. The fun game of “Fireworks or Gunshots” was without a dbout, no longer fun as I am hitting the floor and pulling him down with me because I see splinters flying from our bathroom door, which at that moment was only about two feet from Benjamin. I am now shaking, and scared. My heart is pumping so fast, and I am pretty sure I am about to have a heart attack right there on the floor while Benjamin is dialing 911 to call the police.

A few hours later the police are in our tiny bathroom hunting for the bullet that came into our house. They give us a case number, and pretty much tell us nothing. They are so casual about it that I am devastated. It is like someone pretty much said they didn’t care that we just had experienced near death, in my mind, and that this is just another bad thing about the neighborhood we live in. They leave after telling us that we have to call the electric company because our box had been hit.

The next day, our power is completely cut due to the exposed wire. We get a hotel room and go sleep. Because Benjamin and I got zero sleep from the night before. It was surreal. The level of fear and anxiety I felt about simply walking into our bedroom. I have never been so afraid of my own bedroom as I was at five am that morning.

The next day (Saturday), we come home. We start inspecting. We find three holes total. One in the electrical, the one that tore through half of our house (we have a small house), and one that got lodged in the siding. We call the landlord next door to let them know the house had been shot at as well. We have consistently been calling them when things happen to the house. A tree fell onto their house after a storm, the large amounts of trash (tires and such) in the yard. When we damaged their back yard and wanted to make it right. When broke-down, trashy vehicles were sitting all around the house, making it a junk yard. Yes, I’m that kind of person. We have put almost 130K into renovating and upgrading our house. Making it perfect to live in, and I was not about to sit parked next to a fucking junk yard. This has been an ongoing battle since I moved in. Benjamin and his brothers had not bothered to deal with it prior to this, but it had been happening much longer than that.

A few hours later, we noticed the UHaul truck and called the landlord to see if they were finally moving out. You see, we want to buy that property. Demolish the house, an enclose the entire yard to ours, making our lot a .25 acre lot. It seems silly, but the property value would increase drastically, and then there is no longer a neighborhood problem coming from that house. A gentleman, the gold toothed baby daddy who does not live there but comes around all the time, approaches us, for a second time in the past two years. Menacing and demanding that we only talk to them, not the landlord and tries to intimidate us into backing off.

Benjamin answered the door and in his ever diplomatic manner told him to get bent. Of course, those of you who know me, know I have a hot temper and short fuse. Well, let’s throw a shooting on top of it, and I shoot out of the house like a rocket. I march right over there and tell them all to go fuck themselves. That I’m going to keep calling the landlord, and they will take care of their fucking property. And under no circumstances would I stop reporting all the fucking vehicles thumping their bass between 12am-3am every fucking night. If they didn’t like it, they can go fuck themselves.

It escalates and I end up in a fist fight with one of the women that does live there. The younger of the two. It was like I was fourteen again and was beating Octavia Puckett to a pulp for mocking my dead brother and poking me in the face. I didn’t see reason. Or feel peace. I didn’t want to hug her and tell her she will be alright. That her kids are alright. Or that we’ll get through this together. Which is exactly what I should have done. I was so fucking proud of pounding her. Of letting out all of my helpless rage and frustration onto a person just as scared as I was. It felt good. So good. And that’s bad.

They have not been back since that fight.

Well, insurance came on Tuesday and he inspected the entire house. There is a bullet in the roof, one in the attic, and the one that scares me most, on the back of the house. The one on the back of the house is right at the level of where I had been sitting. It grazed the house and bounced off. Thank God. The insurance person inspected the house next door as well. They have 20+ holes all targeted at a specific bedroom. These houses were box kit houses when they were originally built, so I know exactly how that house is laid out.

So now I am afraid again. I had just settled into sleeping at night, in spite of waking at every single sound and worried that I am going to roll over and see Benjamin’s brains splayed out on our bed. Or that they are going to come and deliberately shoot at us because I chose violence over love. I wish I could apologize to her and not seem fake about it. Or that she would even listen. But, I feel it would make matters much worse. That we’ll fight again. That it won’t solve anything. Regardless, the damage is done, and she is now gone.

But there is more damage done than I. had originally anticipated. Not physical damage, but emotional damage. The room that got shot was going to be the baby’s room. We had already agreed to start the paperwork in March, when we knew how much bonus we will get, for surrogacy. We were going to do it this past March, but pandemics put a damper on surrogacy. Now, now, I cannot in good faith bring a baby into this house, or children should we adopt. It isn’t safe. No matter how hard I try to convince myself, it is not safe. Ben and I are gambling that we will be alright. That there will not be another drive-by. That we won’t get hurt. But it’s a farce to ease the frustration of having spent all our money on this house and are somewhat trapped here until it is taken care of.

I also, no longer feel safe in inviting people to our home. The path the bullet took would have murdered my brother-in-law. He literally sits at the edge of the bed, playing video games and the bullet would have gone right through his head. There would have been nothing to save him. Nothing. I know it didn’t happen, and I shouldn’t play the what-if game. But WHAT IF it happens again? What if the neighbors do come back and whoever was mad at them shoots them up again, and this time Jerry IS here? Or my sister? Or her husband? Or my mother? I have lost one brother to gun violence in my life. I do not need a second.

And I don’t want to have them for gatherings at all. Like what if we are at the dinner table and they shoot at the front of the house? What if they kill the cats? What if the car that keeps parking in the grocery store parking lot in the afternoons is them?

The spiral spins on and on. Benjamin is so cool and collected. He sleeps through the night. I lie as close to him as possible and listen to his steady breathing. His heavy arm around me and I drift in and out. Even the sleep aids aren’t keeping me asleep. He doesn’t want to move. We have only been here a year since we finished the renovations. He doesn’t want to spend all the effort to pack. Neither of us want to look for a new home. We don’t want an existing home. We want to pick our own finishes. Make our own design choices. Get the layout we want. So that makes it harder. We cannot really agree where we want to live either. And it just doesn’t make financial sense to move. Not for a few years anyway.

And then there is COVID. It’s isolating and terrifying. We have been quarantining since the fight and it caused us to miss a family gathering. I’m going to convince Benjamin to get tested with me on Thursday. Just to be safe.

This has led me to reaching out to people I was close to. To try and connect with people I feel I have neglected and want to keep in my life. It feels weird and scary. Putting myself out there to see if the friendships I hold so very dear are still there. People have been kind thus far, and responsive. But I fear that I am going to shunt them again; turning inward and solo. Trying to face the storm all on my own, even shoving Benjamin out. I know that we are a team, and he’s a Big Damn Hero. He would never let me weather all this alone. No. He would stand right there with me and scream at the wind. He would probably even do it better than I could.

But I am looking forward, trying to find the right way to go with Benjamin and our now jostled lives. We had such a perfect plan that I feel has been shot to hell, pun intended. I can only hope that we choose wisely.