I closed on our house three days after returning from Fort Wayne for the funeral. It was tough, wrapping up those last-minute details from six hours away, but when I packed our suitcases in the car, I included all my paperwork and documentation. Just in case. And I definitely needed it – the entire mortgage had to be reworked (and approved) following Mike’s death. Something about state law… Dumb community property state.
It was important to me to be able to close on the house as soon as possible. We had been living out of boxes in a temporary corporate apartment for six weeks. We had Christmas in the apartment. Celebrated New Year’s. Ethan started school while we were there. But we needed a home. We needed our “stuff” which had been in storage since we moved out of our house in St. Louis. We needed to be settled.
Since closing on the house eight weeks ago, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to really get settled – after all, three days after the movers came, I as on a plane to Orlando for a four-day work trip. There are still a few boxes lying around. Things to hang on the wall are still leaning against furniture or are wrapped in layers of tissue paper and thick cardboard boxes. The basement storage area is quickly filling with stuff I don’t know what to do with, and the garage is still a mix-match of things I’m saving for a spring yard sale as well as some things of my mom’s from her storage unit in St. Louis (mostly big, giant furniture that we can’t move to her new storage place).
I haven’t met many people in the neighborhood yet because of my crazy work hours, but I feel like I know them. Or, more accurately, they know me.
A couple of times a week, my mom will tell me about some of the neighbors she’s met:
– “Her THIRD husband was an alcoholic. She left him because of it, so she totally gets what you’re going through…”
– “She’s a therapist. Now, she doesn’t work with people who have insurance, but she said if you ever need to talk through your grief, she’d be there for you and the kids.”
– “His daughter was married to a doctor. They had a little boy who was about four years old when her husband went on a trip to Mexico. She didn’t know that he was an addict. Killed himself, well OD’d actually, in a hotel room in Mexico, can you imagine?”
I’m sure my mom means well, but really? How do things like this come out of a 10 minute “Welcome to the Neighborhood!” kind of conversation?
They don’t. Unless they’re being offered up as part of the intro.
I’m not sure why she feels the need to air my dirty laundry to all the new neighbors. I’m certainly not hiding the truth from the neighbors, but it isn’t how I thought I’d “meet” the neighbors. I mean, if it came out in conversation over a summer BBQ or while watching the kids ride their bikes up and down the street, I’m okay with that. But, I’m kind of not okay with the new neighbors knowing that I’m a widow, a wife of an alcoholic who was going through a divorce and is now left with two small kids. I’m not okay with them knowing all this before I actually get to meet them.
I can only imagine what they think, and from the looks I’ve gotten from a few of them when I’ve taken out the trash or waved while getting into my car in the morning, I’m thinking it’s something along the lines of, “Oh, you poor thing…”
I’m not a “poor thing.” I don’t want to be a “poor thing.” I appreciate the sympathy, but it’s not what I need or want. Especially from people I don’t know, who don’t know me or my situation or my kids. I’m not sure exactly what my mom has told them or how it was worked into conversation. And, I’m not sure how to get her to stop mentioning it – or even if it makes a difference now. Apparently “third husband was an alcoholic” neighbor is the village gossip, so my story is as good as told around the neighborhood by now.
I guess until I get to meet everyone (maybe when the weather is warmer), I’ll just be the “poor thing” on the block.