By Trudy Wischemann
It’s been almost 3 weeks now since I found my house broken and entered, burgled for the second time in two years. The adrenaline that carried me the first week like a surfboard on the crest of a wave has disappeared. The additional chores to accomplish on top of the normal daily ones have caught me up inside the wave, tumbled me over and over, and some days, smashed me hard on the beach. Some days washing the dishes is my only major accomplishment.
I tell you this because I heard a beautiful story on NPR’s “The Moth Radio Hour” Sunday, just when I thought it might be best if I simply crawled into the garbage cans waiting for pickup Monday morning. The quavering voice of a young Middle Eastern woman telling her story about a sojourn up a glacial mountain at night rescued me. She was on some spiritual trek, I think. After getting lost and bogging down from exhaustion, she was rescued by a stranger guiding another neophyte up the dark slope. She ended her story by saying (after she got tears to stop choking her voice) “What I learned is we all must tell our mountain stories because we could become guides for others.”
So, if your house recently has been broken and entered and some of your most favorite things have been taken into the ether to be sold for next to nothing or discarded because they can’t bring even a dollar, I’m offering a description of my path. Not advice, just company for your journey. This is what I’ve discovered so far.
Some days the best place for me to be is home. I don’t feel safe anywhere else on those days when my brain has 20/80 vision. Trying to be sympathetic, people say “Oh, you feel so violated,” which only reinforces the violation on 20/80 days. But it’s more like I’ve lost my personal boundaries and could evaporate instantly in the wrong situation. My walls still protect me from most people when I need them, so it’s better for me to be there than out where I’m exposed.
Much of what I have left are just the trappings of the life I thought I was making while life made other plans. Some of what was taken were the things I needed most here on Plan B. Some were leftovers from Plan A and will barely be missed. But the most important thing I’ve discovered is just how much I have always wanted to live in a way that wouldn’t make anyone jealous or think my life is better than theirs. Apparently I’ve failed in that goal. Time to try again.
I’ve also discovered the trap of Plan A. Without realizing it, I moved here to try to roll back Time: to live in a small town as if it were the small towns of my youth, the ones I didn’t get to know personally, but only as a visitor. Drugs have made that a lost cause, at least in a town this size. I don’t know what the 1-2,000 pop. towns are like; maybe they can still know whose child has stepped over the line. But you can’t roll back that mother, Time. Period.
The trappings of Plan A were collected as if I were going to have a small-town social life here. I’m not: I’m a writer and a recluse. I’ve been trapped in that dream by my possessions. It’s time to let that dream go, and restore the real qualities of life I value here: serenity, freedom, generosity, community, with a serious dose of privacy. I’m still glad I live in Lindsay, where these things abound.
Trudy Wischemann is a small-town girl who was raised without a small town. Send her your beloved small town qualities-of-life c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com and leave a comment there.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.