Our landlord that owned the house was so sweet. We were instantly drawn into long conversations every time we saw each other. She wanted to come out and garden with me that first year. She would come to the farmer’s market and visit with us that summer. We loved so many of the same things. Wine, food, farming, and she was interested in the herbal medicines. I asked her jokingly one day when she was picking up some medicines if she needed a Love Potion Tincture. She said matter-of-factly, “I am not sleeping with him, he’s an asshole.” That was the first time we knew something might be amiss. We had met her husband each time we met with her. He was fairly quiet. It had been his house until they got married and moved into hers in Parker. When she announced that they were getting a divorce my first reaction was, “Uh oh.” She got her house in Parker and he got to keep his house in Elizabeth. The one we were living in. He couldn’t afford the mortgage payments, so we were able to stay there.
Meanwhile, Doug and I were busy patting ourselves on the back. Congratulating ourselves on raising the most amazing children. What was this teen thing everyone spoke of? Geez, our kids were 17, 14, and 13. Lovely children. Polite, intelligent, gorgeous young people. We were really something as parents. We agreed we had such fantastic children because we homeschooled. They had freedom. We had interested them in the arts. We filled the house with singing, musical instruments, and painting. We drove them and all their neighborhood friends two to a seat to youth group every Wednesday in Parker. We took them to church. We raised them to be considerate and to be able to hold adult conversations and to be passionate and compassionate. Pat. Pat. Man, we were great.
So one day we found ourselves standing in front of the house, arms linked, jaws open, contemplating whether it was proper to move out until the kids became themselves again. We were shell shocked. Never had we heard of anything like this before. When folks have teenagers, they joke when they are past the stage. They never really tell you what it feels like to be a parent to a teenager who has come into their own. Not only did the kids start to rebel, but they all became rebellious at the same time, fueling each other. An inferno within the walls of our supposed sanctuary. It was terrifying.
And they tried and did everything. They knew all the police officers by name and not in a good way. The court house was becoming a regular date on my calendar. While we were doing markets every day, our house had become the neighborhood hangout. Pot smoking, drinking, cussing, drag racing. Our neighbors glared at us in the grocery store. My mother called to tell me to take charge. Short of tying them all up and keeping them in a closet for two years, I was unsure as to what I could possibly do. I had already attempted bribing, begging, crying, ignoring, and every other reaction I could possibly come up with.
Emily disappeared for three days. We thought she had been kidnapped and feared the worst. Shyanne began to sneak out at night and go who knows where. Andrew’s temper made a fierce appearance and he eventually moved in with his girlfriend for awhile. We did not recognize these children. Emily was helping herself to our money, a lot of it. The kids had no desire to listen or be around us any longer.
One night Emily had a lot of food in her room. Doug told her to take it out as we were beginning to see a mouse problem. She squinted her eyes, gave him a glare, and did not remove it. He threw it all away. The next day we went to the farmer’s market. When we returned (that is when we contemplated moving out) we were shocked and crushed by the result of three children’s tempers. Eggs were broken in my shoes. Antiques had been thrown off the second story deck. Things were broken, thrown away, and I think I have blocked out the rest. But the three little (used to be) angels looked at us with insidious smiles and said, “We didn’t do it.”
Oh, that was a time. Even though we are past it now, it feels like a wound that will never fully heal. A rejection and a stab that no one tells you about. Five years off my life easy. Doug’s beard half grey.
The landlord without his wife was becoming a problem. He hated gardens. (He even sued us when we left for $15,000. The garden a part of the damages listed.) Turns out he hated cats. He hated life. And he certainly would not let us have chickens. He was losing a battle to Hepatitis C. He lost his job. He needed us to pay him the rent two weeks early every month. We did so for over a year which is probably what gave him the idea that we had money. (The case was dropped by the way.) We expected a foreclosure notice on the door any day. We could not fathom how he could be paying his bills.
The house had bad vibes. Haunted. Whatever you want to call it. We don’t usually mind the here and there spirit. We live in exceptionally old towns. It kind of comes with the territory. But, this was evil. I hated getting up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. I flew there with my eyes closed. I was terrified.
The house was quickly losing its charming and promise. Bad memories, bad mojo, and a real possibility of being out on the street was staring us in the face. The shop was doing great but at home, hell had broken loose.
Two years after we moved to the house, we needed to get out. I could not find anywhere to rent though. I was getting scared…but as fate would have it…