Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paradise Found/Lost/Looking For

We live in a small town outside Seattle. Actually we live outside a small town, outside of Seattle. We moved here about 2 years ago from a much larger town outside Seattle. It was one of those serendipitous things - my husband and youngest son were out fly fishing and my husband grabbed one of those real estate brochures off a sign along the road. He brought it home and I looked at him askance, like "Are you  nuts? I have a rough enough time living 15 minutes outside of Seattle, let alone 45 minutes." Men. Ya know you can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em......hmmmmmm.

Anyway, a couple of months later, the whole family ended up heading out to the same river for an afternoon and 'Lo and Behold', there is another real estate brochure thing on another 'For Sale' post on the same road. OK, so now it's a "sign"; like the one I had driving up to make my first skydive, but was in a motorcycle accident instead, fracturing 2 vertebrae. THAT was a sign. Do NOT, under any circumstances, hurl yourself out of a plane at 7,000 feet, no matter what kind of adrenalin rush it provokes; with just this flimsy bit of silk attached to your back, you hope and pray will open and prevent you from spiraling down at terminal velocity towards certain death or at least monumental debilitation if you're lucky enough to survive by getting snagged in a tree - kinda like relying on a condom. But I digress..... yet again.

So we grab this brochure and all we see is this view of mountains and river. I mean, forget what the house looked like, those mountains! That river! Next thing ya know, (OMG, I have been watching waaaaaay too many Sarah Palin video's - you betcha), I'm calling the real estate agent listed and setting up an appointment. We bought the house 2 days later and never looked back. Well, occasionally I look back as I am leaving Seattle to head home, but then I pull onto our road.....what can I say?

WOW, that's a lot of blah blah to get to the point that prompted me to write this. 

When we moved in, a couple lived across the street. They were not overtly friendly and seemed quite a bit older than us. The previous owner of the house we bought had told us that they had lost their son in a car accident some years ago and they spent a lot of time in the house drinking. Not that we don't do the same thing, however, we're not trying to drown our sorrows, but yet again, that is a topic for another time.

Needless to say, our paths never really crossed. I met with the woman who lived there, in her driveway, after we had come home from an extended absence in Europe, only to find we had no water, (we share a well with a few other homes). She was very quiet and seemed very shy. I introduced myself and we spoke briefly, but that was it. We noticed the house had gone up for sale and we asked our real estate agent, who has now become a good friend, what the story was. She said the house was a mess, literally falling down, but other than that, she had no information. 

The house sold and we met our new neighbors, well 1/2 of them, a few months later. Last weekend, our neighbors came over and informed us that someone had come on to their property and shot at them in their mobile home, twice. Luckily the bullets did not penetrate the interior. The person took off before my neighbor could get a license plate number. That was really weird, because I had heard the shots, (actually, I heard 3 shots, not just 2), whilst in a comatose state as I fell asleep. You know, that state where you feel like you are falling, but you're not quite asleep yet. I had asked the kids the next day if they had heard shots, and they hadn't. I figured it was Sarah Palin going for the elk that run through our area on a regular basis.

Apparently, the woman I had spoken to was only 48 and she died in September. I had thought she was much older after I had met her. She was younger than me. After delving more into her background, I found out that her son had been 18 when he lost control of his car in town and smashed into a tree. There was no alcohol involved. He had been a senior at the local high school and was one of their major football stars...we're talking scholarship kind of major. She had been a nurse at the local hospital and when I read her memorials on-line at the funeral home, I began to get very emotional.

The police are investigating and feel, as we do, that the shooting was not random. I don't know the whole story, but there was a lot of stuff going on in that family and I think there is a certain resentment towards our new neighbors. They have totally gutted the house and are rebuilding while living in their motor home on the property. 

Our reaction was astonishment and then a bit of shock set in. My husband and I started talking gates, motion sensors, a gun. Our neighbors have put up major lights, motion sensors, video surveillance, and now lock their gate. 

And I sit here wondering about all that drama going on across the street from me and us sitting here totally oblivious. I am feeling isolated, insulated, separated. I feel a shadow of the terror that our neighbors must have experienced when they realized they were being shot at; the pain of losing a son that seeped it's way into that house, wrapping itself around the heart and souls of our old neighbors, even rotting the house to its' very foundations. The house was collapsing around them and they were collapsing from within. I ask what would motivate someone to shoot at the new owners of the house? What frustration or agony came spewing forth, gripping that persons' psyche and extruding itself though the barrel of a gun? And we were oblivious to that blackness drowned out by the river hurtling below us; wrapped in our cocoon of water, mountains, Douglas firs, Western hemlock and giant cedars. I don't think I will look at this place we called Paradise in the same way ever again.



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