A strange thing happened the other day and I couldn't help but wonder if it was my own fault. If maybe it had happened because I was, well, being me. This thought is particularly problematic considering that if this was indeed the case, if it had been my fault, my husband would be right and I would be wrong. I hate that! It so happens that for the past five or six years I have really grown to like being me and I want to keep it that way. I've always argued -mostly with my husband- that going about my day with a positive energy and inviting smile has been the healthiest and safest choice I have ever actively made, that I am far from the naive, innocent victim my husband's suggesting I am. So why did I find myself questioning this as the AT&T repair man finally drove down our driveway leaving me behind feeling vulnerable, afraid and wrestling with my own self awareness?
To say it all started with a broken phone line would not only be a lie but would also fail to serve me as a learning tool. I'm smart enough (sometimes!) to know that every choice we make or situation we find ourselves in makes its way into our lives rich in history and justifications. To try to tell a story from the beginning is futile, but to not tell the story at all; where's the fun in that? So I'll begin with the strange thing that happened and maybe I can work backwards until I prove to myself that my husband is not right!
I had no dial tone. Living on sixty-five acres of wooded land in the middle of nowhere Texas is peaceful and grounding, maybe even more so with no dial tone, as long as there are no emergencies. However, being a mother of four boys who would be home from school in a few short hours I couldn't risk being out of touch with the world, so I immediately used my cell phone (sketchy as the service is) to call AT&T and request repairs. Not long after I reported the trouble a technician called to say he was on his way. Having had the perfect amount of coffee that morning I was feeling rather outgoing and maybe even a little bit silly. When the technician arrived I couldn't help noticing that he was cute in that cowboy way, not my taste but preferable to the beer-gut-hanging-over-the-jeans look. I smiled and invited him in.
"Hello! I promise I didn't do it!" Laugh. "I think it may be a problem with the wiring in the house, if so my husband can fix it. I'm not sure."
"I'm sure we can figure it out." He'd been out to the house once before so I made some comment on how I don't remember what excuse I used last time for my messy house but hopefully it was good enough to carry over all these months later. "With all those kids you have I don't know how it would ever be clean." He gets it.
The problem with the phone line is fixed within minutes.I walked him out and as he's standing outside with me at my door he asks, "So your married?"
"Ya! My husband is the father of my youngest son.", I know this sounds like a strange way to answer but all my boys are different colors so I tend to answer the question before it's asked. "Are you married?"
"I love being married. And we have two houses so we never get on each others nerves!"
"What's the point of being married if you live in two houses?" I just shrugged. I was quite sure that I had already answered that question when I said we never get on each others nerves.
"Well, he pays the bills," I added as I waited for him to leave. For some reason I couldn't put my finger on he was making me slightly uncomfortable.
"You know," he was saying, not leaving, "I'm supposed to put a box on the outside of your house while I'm here. I have time now and that way I won't have to come in to test your line next time I'm called out here."
"Sure. I'll be inside if you need me. You can knock on the side door." I was kind of glad I wouldn't have to invite him in next time, so even though I was feeling ready for him to leave, I knew I'd be glad in the long run.
A short time after he'd been out there I went out to ask him if I could use the land line while he was working on it.
"No," he said looking at me strangely, "I have you completely cut off from the world right now. Anything could happen and no one would know."
Okay, that was weird. "That's what my dogs are for. Protection."