16 February 2007

A Few Words on Anxiety

Let me preface this post by disclosing that I've been drinking wine. Beginning with after-work drinks with my boss and coworker, which turned out to be quite an enjoyable outing, despite the lengthy discussions of small dogs, housekeepers, and landscapers-- none of which I forsee becoming familiar with any time in the near or distant future. But they have taught me how to forge friendships with people so unlike me, and for that I am grateful. And I had a genuinely nice time.

That said, are you ready for a story?

My junior year of college, I lived in a modified and run-down house managed by a dysfunctional alcoholic who lived in his office next door after his wife booted him from the family home. Our little house housed all of Us, a pack of six young dysfunctional folks and our cast of friends and acquaintances. Three boys, three girls, two kitchens, two bathrooms, all connected. We had adventures, and I wish I could remember more of them.

We hung out at the Vid, a downtown bar about two miles from home. The Vid was so smoky it impaired our vision, and it entertained us with cheap, strong drinks and a band of friendly redneck locals and general hipsters from the University. It was where the bands hung out. It was hipster before we understood what hipster was. It was a good place to play pool, or pretend to be interested in playing pool, in my case. It was a dive. It's where I learned to love Vodka. It was the first thing my husband and I had in common.

The Vid closed at 3am, and my house often opened to the public shortly afterward. This particular night, though, we only had my future husband and his roommate as visitors (they were regulars), and we sat peacefully smoking joints and continuing our beverage marathon in my roommate D's bedroom. He was the only one with a television. Most of the house was sleeping, including my roommate Virginia.

Before I met her, Virginia had dated a true asshole. A guy who continued to circle lower and lower around the loser drain after she broke it off. It had been a couple of years, and she hadn't heard much from him.

So there we sat, probably making up clever nicknames for people we hardly knew, winding down.

The phone rang several times at about 4am. It was the guy Virginia had dumped, demanding to speak to her. And my roommate D. told the guy over and over that she was in bed and that he'd have to call back in the morning.

And someone came in the back door. Which was unlocked, because we were friendly and dumb like that.

That someone was Virginia's old boyfriend and his idiot friend in plaid pants. And they had a gun.

They were fucked up on some kind of something. Our house held many illegal and unsavory substances a lot of the time, but none were as tweaky or ravaging as whatever this guy had gotten into. They both looked like shit. Like dangerous, threatening shit.

They walked into my house, threatening all of us and demanding to speak to Virginia.

These are the sentinal events that happened next: I slipped into the other kitchen and called the police. And my future husband and his roommate, my heroes, kicked the guy's ass in the big kitchen while his plaid-pants friend stood in the hallway, pointing his gun right at them. A. says they never saw the gun. It seemed like it took for-fucking-ever. And I remember all of them in a big ball of arms and legs and yelling, colliding with the refrigerator, knocking over all of the cereal boxes and bottles of wine that lived on top.

Okay, let's pause.

First, I am not the type of girl that hangs out with dangerous-type people. I am, at my core, a goody two-shoes, safety freak, can't-we-all-just-get-along type. We weren't mixed up with the "wrong crowd." I'm sure we became the "wrong crowd" for some people in different ways, but we never, ever thought we knew people that were so capable of violence. We never saw bar fights. We never. And my husband? He's not a fighter. He's just not. He once broke up a fight by getting totally naked and standing between the arguing parties, saying, "If you want to fight, you'll have to touch a naked guy to make that happen".* I am not making that up. But he and his roommate kicked this guy's ass proper that night in my kitchen, and I am not making that up, either.

The police came, and by that time the gun-toting tweakers were running from our house, after I proclaimed at the top of my lungs that I'd just called the cops. They were taken into custody, and it made the local paper the next morning. I filled out the police report on my front porch in green crayon, because one roommate was an Art Education major and that's what was available. We all filed restraining orders.

Fast forward to tonight, and every night that I sit on my couch alone while A. is out being the gregarious and social being that he is. I mute the television at every noise. I peek through the curtains every time the dogs stir. I can't really rest.

And I ask myself-- what am I so afraid of? And when I really and truly answer that question, I'm thinking about what would happen if someone came bursting through my front door. I'm always ready. I keep my cell phone next to me, because it's the phone (and my husband / hero) that saved all of our asses that night when I called Bloomington's finest.

If I had two minutes with the asshole that decided, on a whim, to walk into my peaceful home and threaten the sweet, imperfect souls that lived there, I'd say this:

You motherfucker. You may think you terrified me once, but you do it over and over again in the back of my brain where I can't see it or hear it, but it's there. Ten years later. You. Motherfucker.

*Another popular post-Vid destination: The Fountian Square Apartments swimming pool. None of us lived there, but the fence was low. So we climbed over and skinny-dipped in the summers. Beer cans float in the pool, did you know that? One small guy challenged one bigger guy about something dumb, like a Simpsons episode, and it started to get ugly. So A. got naked and got in the middle. Crisis averted. The end.

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