I think it's part of the American dream to make the seemingly natural progression from an apartment/condo to a home. You know, to give up the shared walls, the concrete patios, the unintentional shared conversations, etc etc. There's something undeniably attractive about a solo standing house, and a backyard with grass, and the freedom to get in a yelling match, if desired, and not have uninvited spectators.
These dreams- this American dream- that's what brought us to 5801 Saloma. With burnt out weeds for a yard that were a far cry from grass. And it's own garage, although not a connected one. The square footage was small, everything was old and broken down, but still the same....it was a house. Maybe only retrospect has designed the perspective, but, truth be told...it was a dump. Even so, we were satisfied because it meant we had graduated from apartment living.
This should stand out as a golden period in our lives, a monumental stepping stone. Yet, I can't think back to 5801 Saloma without sucking on the bad after taste that house left, wondering what was wrong with that place. Ive yet to be able to put my finger on a decisive problem, and am even further from an answer. Despite the fact that it remains nothing more than a circumstantial case, I have decided that something was not right there. For surely. Without a doubt.
That's the house where we brought home our second little baby, Porter Pope. And so started the routine of looking the clock dead in the eye at 1 am. And 4 am. And then hopefully not again til 7 or 8. After a couple months, we whittled it down to just a 4 am feeding session. Where I'd get up, grab the baby, feed him, lay him back down before laying myself back down. But pretty soon, an added step attached itself to this routine. An unwanted step, in fact, a dreaded step. I would lay myself back down and instead of immediately falling back asleep, I would just lay there. Not due to an overactive, busy mind. Not because I wasn't tired. I would just let there because I was paralyzed. With fear.
What was I afraid of? The dark? Did I think someone was in the house? Or coming in the house?
I have no idea. But it was literally a paralyzing fear that completely owned me, possessed me, and had me feeling that my well being was threatened if I as much as moved my eyeball.
I hadn't felt that since I was a little girl. When my big house had recently been broken into and was too empty and too quiet. Except for the steady up and down breathing rhythm of all the sleepers, which I was convinced was really someone stealing our dishes right out of the cupboard (the far fetched thinking of a paranoid girl). I would lay on my bed, not even entertaining the thought of making my way downstairs. I was sure that I was in danger. I can't think of a motivation that would have got me to lift my head from that pillow and walk my feet to the lower level. It wasn't even an option. The only place I ever got the nerve to go...was straight to my parents' bed.
But I was no longer a child, instead an adult, dead-locked by the same paralysis. But multiplied. Multiplied by years of experience. By responsibility for others. By accountability. It was much deeper and desperate than what I felt as a child.
After a few times, I let Yosh know that I was a big ole baby and was freaking out every night when I had to feed the baby. At the time, Yosh's work had him out the door at 4:30 am. There wasn't much he could do to ease my mind. To add to the disruption, my nerves were contagious and left him feeling a little uneasy about ditching his family and leaving us at the hands of whatever my pending fear was. Not to mention, leaving me for work when although I didn't show it, I was a complete mess. It was this weird deal- I didn't know exactly what I was afraid of and Yosh didn't know exactly what he should be protecting us from.
And so I would lay there, still. Flexed to the max. Praying to go to sleep.
Each episode lasting longer than the previous one. Anxiety started to leak into the day time hours. I was nervous for that 4 or 5 o'clock wake up call, anticipating it hours before it came. I was nervous of our house. I was nervous of spending the rest of my life feeling nervous. Things were reeling. I thought I might understand what schizophrenia felt like. Who knows, maybe I was schizophrenic. But the building of anxiety continued.
Until it capped. Climaxed.
It was early February, when days were short and night was rushed in by darkness at absurdly early hours. So although it was already dark, it was only 5:30 at the latest, even though it might as well have been the dreaded 4 am hour. Because the setting sun had quietly ushered in my rising uneasiness. And with darkness all around, I was unsettled, I was nervous, I was, finally, a wreck. This invisible presence surrounded me. It was heavy, it was dark, it was real. At least in my mind.
Real enough that I called Yosh in a near panic. How do you articulate invisible fear? "Hey babe, I'm just really scared of the way I feel, so like...can you come home, please?" "Nope, no one's here. No, I didn't see anything. Or hear anything. No, just feeling weird." It's vulnerable to share unsupported feelings. To ask someone to believe and then trust that something real is going on in your life, even if you're the only witness. It puts you at risk for being called crazy, for losing credibility.
But I was desperate enough that I made that phone call.
Have you ever seen me cry? I mean, outside of watching the Newlyweds, the Bachelor, or a romantic comedy? I kinda doubt it. I'm not much of a crier. I didn't cry when our fresh babies were set on my naked chest, I don't cry when Yosh and I have a disagreement, I barely cry at my own life, my own experiences. I'm moved to tears by yours, I'm steel when it comes to my own.
Usually I'm steel.
But not that day. I couldn't stop the fear, I couldn't control the tears. I was shaken to the bone. I begged Yosh to come home from work, that something was wrong, something was off. That I couldn't bare the thought of being at our house alone. That I needed him to be there with me and my two babies.
I had never asked anything of Yosh before. I had been sick with the flu, throwing up through the night, and didn't ask Yosh to stay home from work. I'd had two RSV babies with no one around to help and knew he couldn't miss any work to help. I'd found myself in many a lonely or desperate or seemingly impossible situations, but had never interfered on Yosh's work and asked him to come to my rescue.
This was a first-- he knew I was serious.
Yet, he knew there was no way he could leave work.
So he told me to get in my car as fast as I could and get me and those babies out of there. Like now. He didn't need anymore explanation. He didn't try to tell me I was freaking myself out. He didn't preach that everything was going to be ok.
Leave. Simply, leave. Get out.
Those were the directions. And it took me about less than 2 minutes to follow them.
I went to the Wendy's drive-thru and continued the 30 minute drive to Beverly Hills, completely perplexed.