Monthly Archives: September 2014

Closure

This post ties together two different stories I’ve shared with y’all, The Story of You & Me: In the Beginning, Part 3 and My Greatest Regret.

It was my last day of work before moving out of state and making a fresh start in my favorite city.  It was a Saturday and the credit union branch where I worked was packed.  The queue line was full and members were lined up out the door.  It was so long, members told me they stood in line for 45 minutes before getting to a teller window!  There was a teller in every window and no one could even think about breaks.  Every so often, while waiting for my next member to walk down to my window, I’d scan the line to see if it was getting smaller.  I remember spotting a man in line wearing sunglasses and thinking that odd.  Sometimes we don’t remove our sunglasses if were running in and out quickly, but with this line, he’d be inside for quite awhile.  I quickly forgot about him once my member arrived.

I scanned the line again, at least a half an hour later, and sunglasses man was in the middle of the front queue line.  Oh, well, maybe he’d just been to the eye doctor.  After serving a couple more members, I rang my bell and straightened receipts in my drawer while waiting for the next to arrive.  I saw the hand slide a check and deposit slip across my counter first and then glanced up to see the member – sunglasses man.   I smiled and quickly looked back at his deposit slip to enter the account number into my computer.  I hadn’t even glanced at the name on the slip.  While I typed I said, “I appreciate your patience with the long line,” and he replied, “That’s OK…Jessica.”  The way he said my name, so purposeful, like he already knew it instead of reading it off of my name plate, made me look back up at him.  While I stared quizzically at him, he reached up and removed his sunglasses.  It was him.  It was the guy who’d raped me 5 years earlier.  Five years to the month, to be exact.

I’d always assumed we both lived in the Washington, DC area, because his family is here, and had wondered several times over the previous 5 years how I’d react if I ran into him.  Scream in fright?  Slap him in anger?  Pretend I didn’t know him?  Be warm and friendly, showing him I survived and I’m fine?  I’d played all these scenarios out in my head before but none of them had seemed right.  I just never wanted to find out.

According to the address on his deposit slip, there were several branches of this credit union close to his house so it was odd for him to travel all the way to mine.  On my last day of work.  On my last day in that state.  And to end up at my teller window instead of one of the other 9 windows.  I honestly believe God brought him to that exact spot, so I could fully receive closure before I started my new life.  God helped me shut a door for good and I am so grateful.

This is going to sound strange, but all of a sudden, I stepped outside of myself and hovered behind my body.  I watched, from back there, the exchange that took place between him and me.  And the me that spoke with him while processing his transaction was calm and friendly, yet business-like.  I could feel her breathing and heart rate and neither one, to my surprise, was elevated.

Me: Hello, *John.
John: Hi.
(I looked back down at the deposit and started to process it.)
John: That’s my wife’s check. Let me introduce you to her. (I was unable to see her standing next to him because my window opening was narrow.  She leaned over and smiled at me.)  This is my wife, *Jane.  *Jane, this is Jessica.  She…and *Sue (his sister’s name) went to school together.
Me: It’s nice to meet you.  (Back to processing deposit.)
John: So.  A teller.  Is this what you’ve been doing since you graduated from college?
Me: I also own a catering business.  However, today’s my last day for both jobs.  I’m moving out of state and have decided to drop catering since I work when everyone else is off.
John: That’s right!  (Says to his wife) Jessica makes the best chocolate chip cookies.
Me: Here’s your receipt.  Is there anything else I can help you with?
John: Yes, can you check and make sure my paycheck went in?
Me: There was a direct deposit made last night for (read him the amount).  Is that your paycheck?
John: Did it come from *She-She-Poo-Poo-Big-Important-Compant-in-the-DC-area?
(His wife gave him a strange look when asked that question.)
Me: It doesn’t say where the deposit came from, it’s just coded as a direct deposit. (And in my head I added sarcastically, “And I’m sure you already know where you work, dumbass.  Hey, he’s trying to impress me with the name of his employer.  He put down my little teller job.  This guy is trying to make himself feel better than me.”  I felt pity for him.)  Anything else I can do?
John: Nope.  That’s it.  Good luck where you’re going and don’t stop making those cookies.  (He winked.)

My body did not hit the light button to alert the next member in line I was ready.  It put my copy of his receipt in my drawer and locked it.  It also locked my money drawer and logged off my computer.  It turned my name plate around so that “Next Teller Please” was facing out instead of my name.  It put my key ring around my wrist, turned around and headed towards the door that lead to the back office.  I followed.  I walked through the door behind my body and there were only 2 people back there – the head teller and the branch manager.  The head teller looked up and asked, “What do you need?”  After the door had closed behind us, my body replied, calmly, “I just waited on my rapist.”  I was immediately jerked back into my body and then fainted on the floor.

The next thing I remember, I was sitting in a chair with a paper cup of water in my hand.  One of the loan counselors was getting a cash drawer to replace me on the line and asking the head teller what was wrong with me.  After she went out on the line, the branch manager told me she’d called my parents and they were on their way.  I didn’t feel anything, but I thought, “That’s too bad.  They’d been through enough during the 2 years after.  They don’t need to relive this.”  Sometime later, another counselor came in the back and said that my parents had arrived.  The manager walked me out to them.  My mom blurted out, “It was John, wasn’t it?” And my dad said, “Let’s get you to the car.”

I never cried.  I was in awe.  I did it.  I came face-to-face with him and it wasn’t like anything I’d imagined.  I was calm.  He was nervous, when our eyes met, probably worried what I’d do or say, especially in front of his wife.  But he tried to make me feel small; tried to make himself feel above me.  How sad.  I felt sad for him.  He must not like himself very much to have to use a teller to feel better about himself.  I laughed.  My parents probably thought I’d cracked!  LOL  This weight, that I didn’t even know was still there, lifted off of me.  For good.

“Now, my child, you are ready to begin,” God said.

Positive Affirmations

Two things happened over two days that let me know I’m at least doing some things right.

At church on Sunday, our pastor talked about The Good Samaritan.  Jesus told that story in response to a question he received, “Who is my neighbor?”  Our pastor then mentioned a quote that we’ve all seen and/or heard: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.”  He said it really sifted his focus and reminded him that, “Whoever I am with, that is my neighbor.”

It seems to him that every time he gets in the checkout line of a grocery store, something goes wrong, the cashier has to call for help and it takes so long.  He said he was no longer going to focus on his own frustration and his time being wasted but, instead, focus on how the cashier feels.  He’s going to speak kind, sympathetic words to the cashier and let him or her know that these things happen and he’ll wait patiently until everything is fixed.  He said we should all show kindness wherever we go.  The hubs leaned over to me and whispered in my ear, “You do that all the time.  Everywhere we go, anyone who is serving us or just a stranger passing us, you are kind.  You smile.  You speak nice words.  I get frustrated with someone and you immediately describe the situation from the other person’s point of view.  Thank you.  Don’t change.”

Yesterday, B was out back with the rest of the Alley Cats (I gave all the kids who live on our alley this nickname because it’s where they all hang out when the sun is up and all play well together).  The hubs needed to ask B a question about dinner, so he stepped out back and called to B.  B replied, “Yes, sir?” and the hubs said, “Come here for a minute, please, I need to ask you something.”

There were 2 boys in the alley who do not live off our alley, and one of them said to B (loud enough for the hubs to hear him): Who’s that?
B: My dad.
Other boy: Why do you call him “sir”?
B: Because I’m a respectful boy.

So proud of this kid!

Youth Mentoring

Y’all!  We’re SO excited!  And not just because Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal come back tonight.  OK, the hubs is not excited about GA & Scandal, but I am.  The reason that we are excited is because we are going to start mentoring middle schoolers at our church!

Over Labor Day weekend, the 3 of went on a retreat with our church.  It was for rising middle schoolers and their parent(s).  Lots of things occur when you leave elementary school and start middle, both physically and at school.  It was an awesome retreat and we got so much out of it!  We were the only couple in attendance; the other families had multiple kids so one parent went on the retreat with their rising middle schooler and the other parent stayed home with the other siblings.  The pastor’s wife approached us on the retreat and said she loved what she saw of us as a couple and as parents.  A new middle school mentoring program was forming and she thought we’d be perfect for it.

The youth pastor came over this afternoon and spent a couple of hours with us, explaining what the middle schoolers he’d talk with are looking for in a mentor and him listening to my idea of what we want to offer them.  He was quite surprised with my idea, which really surprised me.  I thought it was quite simple and fit in with what the MSers were needing.  He agreed that it’s exactly what they needed.  However, he’d never heard of anyone doing what I suggested and thought it was amazing.  😀  I guess we homeschoolers really do think outside the box!

Our church went out into the community and asked middle schoolers what they want/need in a mentor and they gave great feedback.  They need adults in their life to accept them, right where they are, without an agenda and their parents/teachers/coaches have agendas.  They feel over scheduled and they don’t want another planned activity.  They love to eat and they want to hear adults stories, to know that adults have gone through similar situations they have.

My idea was simple: we’d pick a day – once a week, once a month, whenever the house was fit for visitors, whenever – and we’d have an Open House.  Kids could stop by whenever it fit into the family schedule from, say, 11am to 7pm, on a given weekend day.  Or a school snow day.  Or from 4pm – 8pm on Wednesdays if there is a need to decompress during the school week.  We decide the frequency when the kids express their needs to us.  They could bring a bike or scooter and ride around.  They could toss a ball around.  They could play board games, they play with LEGOs, sit in a corner and read a book or just. do. nothing. and no one would bother them.  We would talk about whatever they want or not talk at all.  And we would be a vault for these kids.  We’d always have snacks out for them and at noon and 6pm we’d serve a meal.  If they wanted to help with the preparing of the meal, awesome, if not, they still get to eat. ;o)  We’d be a safe haven for them, without any scheduled activity, but full of love and acceptance of who they are, right where they are.

The youth pastor said, “It’s so…..organic!  No RSVP?  Just show up if they can?  I don’t even know how to create an activity without detailed planning!  You’ll have to help me.  But I know you’ll be great at this.  I love watching the two of you communicate together and your son is great.  We need to make this happen.”

The hubs and can’t stop smiling and telling each other how excited we are to get this going!

The Agony of De Feet

Fall is finally here; it’s my favorite season of all!  The smells. The colors. The sweaters. The crisp air. The pumpkins. The corn stalks. The costumed tiny humans. The darkness at bedtime.  The crunchy footsteps. The festivals. The apples. The turkeys. Important birthdays. An anniversary.  I love it all!  Even my legs are rejoicing that it’s Fall.  “We’re ensconced in jeans!  No more shaving!” they gleefully exclaim.

But not all of me is happy it’s Fall.  My feet are grieving. They can’t breathe in the socks I had to wrestle them into.  They beg to know what crime they’ve committed to deserve imprisonment within my sneakers.  “We were meant to be free!” they cry out.  “You have banished our soul (or is it sole?) mates to the back of the dark closet!  Your flip-flops will rot in there and their death will be on your head!”

The Story of You & Me: In the Beginning, Part III

I got up at 4:14am this morning to go to the bathroom.  When I came out, the hubs was awake.

Me: Did you turn the volume down on the computer last night before you turned it off?
TH: I hope so!
Me: I’m serious.
TH: Yes.  Why?  Are you going to get on it now?
Me: I have to or my readers will riot.  That’s the problem with giving them content they want – they want more and they want it yesterday.
TH (sarcastically): OK, JK Rowling.

He cracks me up!  One of the many, many reasons I keep him around.

(If you missed the 1st two installments of how the hubs and I began, you can catch up on them here and here.)  So, back to our story…

Ten minutes later, I was showered, dressed, applying mascara and cursing my still beet red face from mowing the lawn, when the doorbell rang.  Thank goodness I froze instead of stabbing myself in the eye with the mascara wand!  It’s just a neighbor, it’s  not him, it’s just a neighbor, it’s not him, I repeated in my head, not sure if I wanted it to be true or not.  He was sexy as hell and certainly acted like a gentleman, but I’d been drawn in and burned before by guys who say what they think you want to hear to get what they want.  Being alone was less taxing and safer.

I heard my mom open the front door.  I couldn’t make out what was said, but I heard her voice and a very distinctive male voice respond that was not one of our neighbors.  My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach and I stopped breathing.  My left hand was still frozen in front of my left eye with the mascara wand.  Finally, my mom hollered up that I had company, causing me to exhale.  My heart didn’t just start beating again; it started slamming against my breastbone and my hand started to shake.  I started yelling at myself in my head.  Have you seen the movie Return to Me?  If you haven’t, you MUST rent it/download it/stream it!  It’s a perfect date night movie!  So many wonderful actors, laughs, tears and a fabulous soundtrack.  Anywho, in one scene, Jim Belushi’s character is in the midst of chaos in his house with wife and kids running amuck and the doorbell rings.  He decided to surprise his wife’s best friend by inviting a blind date for her to dinner.  He’s standing in the middle of the house yelling, “WILL EVERYONE JUST CALM DOWN, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY?! CALM THE HELL DOWN! GOOD. NIGHT. NURSE!  FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, HE’S JUST A MAN!”  The writers of Return to Me stole those lines from my head in June 1995.  😉

I tried to finish applying mascara and, of course, stabbed myself in the eye.  I cursed and washed my face and tried to start again but my eye would not stop crying.  Then I got worried and frustrated and felt pressure because he was waiting downstairs and my poor mother was entertaining him, which made the other eye cry, too, because I cry when I feel any emotion. And in addition to the beet red blotches that were all over my face from mowing the lawn, all the non-beet red places on my face and my neck now filled in with red from embarrassment.  And I was alone in the bathroom!  How was I going to go out on a date with this man?!

I took a couple of steadying breaths and called down to my mom if I could see her for a second.  As much as I tried to sound calm, it came out shrill and panicky.  The man must have been daft for not running from the house as soon as my mom left the living room.  She took one look at me and said, “What is wrong with you?!”  I started blubbering about lawn mowers and beets and mascara wands and nervous wrecks and ended with, “And now I can’t stop crying!”  She put her hands on her hips and, with a stern look on her face, said, “That boy has come a long way to see you and judging by the mess you’re in, I suspect you feel the same way about him.  Now, wash your face, reapply your mascara or don’t, but get your big girl panties on and get downstairs!”  Then she gave me a quick hug and walked out of the room.

When I finally walked into the living room, he stopped mid-sentence when he saw me and stood up.  He just grinned at me and I grinned back.  I don’t know what was said after that or if any of it was said by me.  I’m sure he told my mom where were going because he was considerate like that.  I just floated on a cloud out the door, with his hand at the small of my back until we got to his car.  He opened my door and I started to climb in when he grabbed my hand and pulled me back up.  “I told you this wasn’t over,” he said and then he kissed me long and slow.  I didn’t want to do it, but I just swayed right into him.  We fit.

Once we were both in the car, we held hands the entire ride.  If he needed his right hand to shift something or adjust a dial, he took my hand with him.  We drove to Fells Point in Baltimore, MD and went to a bar.  Not my scene.  Someone was waiting for us at the bar – his best friend.  I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to spend time with him alone and I was annoyed that I was being put to the best friend test.  Looking back, though, I’m not sure who was supposed to be sizing up whom: did I need the thumbs up from his best friend or did he need to know if I was going to get along with his best friend?  His bestie was certainly an original!  I’d never encountered someone like that before.  But he was a harmless teddy bear in the end and I guess I passed!

I was sad when we headed back to NOVA to take me home.  I wanted more time with him.  I asked where he was going after he dropped me off and he said he’d reserved a room in a local hotel.  I asked if I could go there with him and he debated that, silently, probably wondering what the correct answer was.  I was also going back and forth on which answer I wanted him to give.  I went to his hotel with him.

Around 4am, he told me he was taking me home.  He didn’t want my parents to worry and thought it best I be there when they wake up.  I was impressed and annoyed.  A theme when I was around this man!  He dropped me off and I went straight to bed.  He went back to his hotel and did the same.  We both got up later, showered and he came back to my house.  We had a little time together before he had to hit the road.  He was such a good kisser!  I could tell there was so much strength in his arms but he was so gentle with me.  *sigh*

We talked nightly on the phone.  I think it was a good thing that we got to know each other over the phone.  No anxiety of looking your best when your face-to-face and we probably would have done more kissing than talking if we lived closer to each other.  I realized that no matter where we were, we were going to be one.  So, I decided to pursue something I wanted to do – move to Charleston, SC.  I’d gone to school there and loved the city.  The credit union I worked for happened to have a location there so I looked it up at work.  I could not believe it when I saw they had an opening!  My branch manager and the manager of the branch in Charleston were really good friends, so a recommendation over the phone was good enough for the Charleston manager to hire me!

I gave my 2 weeks notice at my current branch and planned a week off before starting at the new branch so I could find a place and move.  The hubs was excited about my move because, although we’d still have a long-distance relationship, the driving distance between us would be less than half what it currently was.  Everything fell into place so well and I was on top of the world.  I was making a fresh start, moving out on my own in a city I loved and I’d see my man on weekends.  I was beaming!

That is until a certain customer came up to my teller window on my very last day of work before moving: the guy who raped me.

To be continued…

Some days I just can’t take living on this planet with other humans.

Yesterday afternoon was one of those days.  I ran out to get gas for the lawn mower and litter for the cats.  Before even getting in the truck, I had an encounter with a group of school children that made me angry, broke my heart and had me fighting back the tears.  When I finally got in the truck, I had another encountered less than two blocks from my house, with two adults standing in the middle of the street.  I held it together until I got home.  I didn’t unload the car, just went to find the hubs and cried as soon as I got to him.

“What’s wrong with people,” I sobbed.  “How can they not care about each other, at best, and hurt and abandon each other at worst?!  I just can’t take it, babe!  I can’t live on this planet with people like that!  I don’t understand how you can do that to another human being – stranger or friend.”

He put his arms around me.  “I know you can’t, hon.  I know how hard it is being you.  I tell myself that it’s just this area.  That there are nicer, kinder people in other parts of the country, the world.  I have to believe that.”

Star Wars Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party

Throwback Thursday! Have a child who LOVES Star Wars? Here are all the details from the Jedi Training Academy Birthday Party I threw B for his 6th birthday. Still don’t know who had more fun – the kids at the party or me planning it!

You, Me & B

This sleepover birthday party was as much fun to plan as it was to attend!

After sharing how I did B’s LEGO Building Party for his 9th birthday, I realized I should also share what I did for his 6th birthday – a Star Wars Jedi Training Academy.  And it was a sleepover.  Once again, thank goodness for the Birthday Party Ideas website!  I was actually worried the boys would not enjoy being at B’s party as much I enjoyed planning it. I mean I had so much fun planning and thinking and buying; it was amazing. I did not think I was that kind of party planner. I always thought this kind of attention to detail was the talent of a girlie-girl. You know?  Like only a more feminine woman than me could plan a party.  But I did it.  And each boy said several times that…

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