Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Year Ago Today...

At times, I can be a total dork. I woke up this morning thinking, "Today is symbolic. Why?" I was stumped. I could have sworn I made a mental note to pay tribute to May 1st. Why? Why? Why? Then, late morning, the owner of this house, who lives upstairs with her daughter, walked down the front outdoor stairs. We chatted for a bit. Wonderful conversation as always. That's when the proverbial light bulb went off. I remembered.

A year ago today, Lisa and I celebrated the end of almost a year of hell.

In July of 2012, we moved into this 2 family home. Downstairs. Rental. There were tenants already upstairs. Nice people. January of 2014, they moved. The old owners of the house, good people, were picky about who they would allow to rent the upstairs. Almost 6 months later, in June, as a personal favor, they rented it to a man and his dog.

For the first couple of months, things were okay. Not great, but okay. The man was arrogant, made several comments that rubbed me the wrong way and I always sensed something wasn't right. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

That fall, in September, the old owners put the house up for sale. 

Meanwhile, the man's true colors surfaced. He was a heavy drinker and liked to entertain women. The floors/ceilings are thin here. It's an old house. Often times, I had to work in the living room or kitchen because the noise was too loud.

It was awkward to hear the late-night-booty-call noises.

In addition, the man let his dog roam free in our neighborhood. During the day and evening hours, he'd let his dog out, shut the door, and the dog would wander. The dog would "do his business" in various yards. None of the neighbors were happy about this.

What got to me the most was he'd do things purposely to taunt our kids. The taunting and harassment was much worse when he was drinking or if Lisa wasn't home.

Then, one day early winter, jokingly, he mentioned that he would silence our kids when we weren't home.

I didn't think it was funny and I took that comment very seriously. From that moment on, our kids were not left home alone. Ever.

Things progressively got worse. The man and I got into several heated arguments because he thought nothing about leaving his dog outside for extended periods of time when the weather was in the single digits or below. And, I suggested to him that none of neighbors should have to clean up after his dog, especially our elderly neighbor with physical issues.

I loved his dog. I felt bad for him. I knew he didn't have a good life and I did what I could to be his voice.

The man's taunting got worse. Lisa ended up quitting her part time job. We didn't tell anyone the real reason why she quit. In fact, we didn't let anyone know what was going on to the full extent.

It was hell. Our kids feared him.

In the spring of 2015, the house was sold to a wonderful lady who now resides upstairs. The man was evicted and was given until the last day of April to vacate.

Although I was beyond ecstatic, I knew the last month would be the most trying.

I was right.

The last week of April, last year, was beyond stressful. The man didn't care. He had to be out and he didn't hold back.

The taunting and harassment amplified that last week especially when his "friends" came over to assist with moving him to his new residence. They banged on our door, yelled outside of our door, and made no effort to make their presence known.

During those last few days, I worked from the kitchen table so I could hear and monitor everything. The safety and well-being of our kids was number one. 

Lisa was at work. However, on the last day of April, she got out early. Things got scary. I remember being in bed, trying to nap, and hearing the man saying horrible things about our kids, who were barking because of the noise.

I bolted out of bed, into the kitchen, shaking and on the verge of tears. I had hit my breaking point. Lisa met me in the kitchen. Asked what was wrong. I told her. She stood between me and the door. She knew.

"Those men aren't worth it. Exhale. I've got you."

I sat at the kitchen table. The day was almost over. I made it this long. I could endure a few more hours.

By early evening, they finally left. 

On May 1st, I exhaled. We celebrated. Silence. No harassment. I laughed. I cried. I cracked open a bottle of wine.

It took about a week for all of us to decompress.

So, May 1st. A year later. I sipped a little wine while Lisa was at a work event.

A day to celebrate.

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