Monday, October 11, 2010

House Karma

Though I am technically home, living near where I grew up, with family and old friends around, this time of year makes me homesick for some other places that I have called home, however temporarily.

And especially because Al recently took a long weekend in Vermont, and drove past our old farmhouse, and visited with our old friends there, I'm feeling heavy with nostalgia for that particular home.

When we first got to Vermont, Al found us a sweet little chalet style cabin, tucked way back in the woods, on the landlord's property. It was one room, with a loft for a bedroom. One had to navigate a sketchy ladder to go to bed.

We were happy there until we discovered that the landlord, at least once had stumbled down his driveway and stood in our yard, looking in our window...watching us. Yup. Watching us.

So I got one of those country trader fliers and started searching for our next home. I read a promising description of a house for rent, closer to both our jobs. I called and went to look at it the next day. Al wasn't with me.

I remember loving the winding road along the river as I looked for what matched the description the owner had given me. Light green farmhouse, porch, river, huge barn.

My jaw dropped when I pulled up. I was met by a woman, near my age; she and her husband and another couple bought the place from the dairy farmer who'd farmed there up until two years prior.

It was a hundred years old. It had wide pine floor boards throughout the downstairs. Pretty wainscoting in the dining room. A narrow twisting stairway to the upstairs which had three good size rooms.

The basement had a dirt floor and a ceiling so low I couldn't stand up straight. Indoor plumbing was an afterthought. It had no insulation.

The barn dwarfed the house. It was once red, but only flecks were left as evidence. It was full of hay. It smelled wonderful, like cows.

A lazy river twisted past the house and along the edge of the property's ten acres of knobby fields.

I almost passed out with love for this place. I explained my situation to the woman Brenda and filled out the application.

She informed me that I was the last person she'd be showing it to. She had dozens of people interested and dozens of applications to sort through. I would be hearing from her in a few days.

I left, quite deflated, knowing that I had little chance of calling this old farm my home.

I still couldn't help myself from throwing Al in the car when he got home that night and dragging him through the countryside to look at what was about to slip through our fingers.   He loved it just as much.

A few days later, I answered a call from Brenda.  She had carefully considered all the applicants.  I stood out.  The winner.

We moved in the last week of April, during a snowstorm.  We quickly learned what a labor intensive endeavor it is to keep an uninsulated home in Vermont warm with only a wood stove in the basement as source of heat.

We also quickly realized that we never wanted to leave.  We imagined a field full of goats, occupied hen house, children in a pumpkin patch.

We treated their house as if it were our own.  If something needed fixing, Al would just do it.  If the landlords found out, they'd work on our cars for free.  We carpeted the den.  We added a second wood stove to the dining room.  Al planted a beautiful garden.

I cleaned constantly, engaging in a losing battle against the dust that all that wood burning produced.  I didn't mind.

We never owned keys to that house.  When we went away, the landlords would keep our fire burning so the pipes wouldn't freeze.

The week that Owen was due to be born, I performed the traditional nesting ritual of the soon to be mother.  I scrubbed every surface, vacuumed every web, dusted every nook.  Fire wood was piled and ready to go.  Baby things were staged in the dining room; swing, bouncy seat, play pen.  Fridge and freezer were fully stocked.  We wouldn't need to leave the house until Owen was weeks old.

When I clicked the door behind me, three thirty on a Tuesday morning, I didn't think to take one last look around.  To soak in the cozy corners, to inhale the sweet cow scent.

I didn't think of anything but getting to Boston while Owen was still alive.

By the third day of Owen's life, I knew we'd never live in Vermont again.

By the third week of Owen's life, I knew I'd never know Owen. 

At the end of that third week, on a Friday, we sat listening to his surgeon give it to us straight.  Desperate measures would be taken.  We shouldn't hold out much hope.

As I took this in, my cell phone rang.  It was a girl who I'd worked with at the nursing home in Vermont.  She was young, 21, married with two girls and one on the way.  She needed a place to stay.  Only for a week or so, until their new apartment was ready.

I didn't think at the time; "Who asks the mother of a mostly dead baby if she can shack up in her home?".

All I could think about was how good everyone had been to us.  My co workers had donated vacation time so I could get full paychecks.  They donated money so we could afford to eat and park at the hospital.  I didn't know this girl outside of the workplace, but as part of my little family there, I agreed to let her stay, for a week or so, in my home.  I insisted she stay in the downstairs only.  I couldn't bear the thought of anyone going into Owen's nursery.

Al didn't question my decision. Our landlords were ok with it. Melissa, her husband and their girls moved in within a couple days.

She was grateful.  She called often.  She was taking care of our mail.  Keeping the fire going.

She stayed more than a week.

I got a call from our landlords.  They had gone over for whatever reason, and were surprised by what they found.

Our house was trashed.  Garbage everywhere.  Dirty diapers.  Dirty dishes.  Clothes.  Broken things.  A pig sty.

I was angry and hurt and embarrassed;  I called Melissa and hurled a concentrated dose of all of that at her.  A doctor walked in during my tirade and I didn't stop.  The doctor got my index finger while I ranted and raved. 

She was gone the next day.  But she left her mess.  When Al drove up to pick up our life, he was murderous.  Things were stolen.  Money was stolen.

I've never asked him if there was evidence that they'd been in Owen's nursery.

And we never speak of it.  Any of it.

The pain of losing the dream farm on the river is barely a dull ache.  There are joys in our life that far outweigh that little jab.

But the way my home was mistreated and disrespected, after I'd lost so much, has left a big ugly hole. 

Karma is real.  We've been given a home to love once again.

I do wonder if Melissa has learned her lesson though.  Or if Karma is still waiting to show her. 

She should be afraid.   Very afraid.


  1. Holy hell. I guess the answer to the question, "What kind of a person calls to ask" is, "The kind of person who has no respect or human decency."

    I'm glad you had your small time in the farm house to make some good memories. And that you have a place you love, now. Karma, indeed.

  2. Wow...I don't even know what else to say. To take a place that holds that much love and trash it. Karma is a bitch and a bastard as well, and here's hoping it catches up with her and soon.

  3. I sure hope karma comes to visit my brothers ex-wife. It still makes my heart break, what she did to him. (kick him out and have someone move in that same day. And there are even more blows...this is just the surface)

  4. even though this ended badly, I can invision that home you had in Vermont and it sounds wonderful!

  5. It makes me so very sad when I find out there are people like Melissa in the world.

    I know there are, but I'm still so upset when I find out.

    Especially when I find out they've hurt someone whom I love dearly, like you.

    And, to know she did all this while you had Owen's life in the could she?

    Doing what she did to trash the place after asking for a favor and have someone give her shelter BUT THEN to do it to a mother who could very possibly lose her newborn?

    Can't imagine what kind of a person would be ABLE to do that to another mother.

    Unbelievable, incredible, unimaginable: yet,here it is.

    People will continue to shock the hell out of me until the day I die.

  6. eff you melissa! my GOD, i'd like to throttle her on behalf of you and me (i have pent up rage, and she'd be a good target, no?). what a twat. i hope she is rotting in prison right now.

    life for the most part, i try to do the right thing in life, and not be a total fucking jerk off. but i'd be lying if i didn't say i don't want the worst for those that don't.

  7. If Karma hasn't shown her yet, it will.

  8. Melissa has a date with Karma. It will not end well, either.

    Reading this, I swear I could almost hear my plants shaking their heads. I'd hate to be Melissa right now.

  9. I don't understand why Karma insists on biting my ass when there are people like Melissa who have done a whole lot worse shit. (and for the record my ex deserved it.)

  10. Sadly, we have had people in our life who were cut of the same cloth as Melissa. Years have now passed, but I still get angry when I think of it. I do try not to think of it at all, but still, there is a part of me that does wonder about whether Karma has caught up with them yet.

    I'm glad you have a home you love again, not to mention the amazing Owen and Bea and Al.

  11. each time you write about losing your dream home, I get a lump in my throat. Obviously, having Owen means so much more than any house could. Melissa sounds like a complete sociopath who is in for a serious karma bludgeoning. She'll get hers. They always do. And that also means you have extremely great karma in store for you as well. xo, s

  12. Fucking Karma. I only really believe in it when results make sense. I don't understand it when some of us get slapped with an assload of shit, for no discernable reason. I want to believe in Karma, but mostly I don't, even though I want to, because so much in life seems so random.

    On a lighter note, I once had adopted a bunny, which was not allowed in my apartment, and the sweet little beast was doing a lot of damage. I had to get rid of the bunny and was very distressed. My neighbor said cheerfully "Karma will take care of her!" and I said, "oh, you know someone who wants a sweet bunny?" And that is when I first heard of the concept of Karma.

  13. Hmmmm. I loved that house - still remember you stoking the fire out-to-there pg.

    And my child was small enough for me to carry.



  14. God, who would do such a thing. There's just no accounting for it. I'm not a good person to give counsel because I hold grudges like a motherfucker.

  15. Speechless. One would think you could trust another mother but then she did seem to know when to catch you at a weak moment. Just horrid that girl!

  16. Hmmm... If your karma wishes haven't yet, after this post MAYBE all of ours together will... karma is a sneeky pete like that.

    Thank you for sharing. I'm sure that was a hard story to tell.


  17. Wow... just wow...

    I'm almost speechless... and that doesn't happen often...



  18. Good God! I'm sputtering I 'm so pissed off. And I'm sad that your life was so rudely interrupted but glad that things turned out alright in the end! Come to VT, come to VT!

  19. Jesus, that's dreadful. I hope the landlords didn't hold it against you.

  20. I was so taken with this story that I combed through all your posts last night. I can't remember the last time I did that with a blog. What an amazing, good hearted trooper you are! I can't get over all you've had to endure. Now I really understand what you were saying when you said to the organic turnip farm (grand)mother that you had been through worse than a crying 3 year old. Thanks for sharing your story with us. You use bad words in all the right places and I love your writing.

  21. What an ordeal! I suppose someone who would show you more respect wouldn't have asked that in the first place.

  22. Holy fuck. First I'm all "aww, what a lovely home story" and then I'm all "what a fucking bitch to trash that dream!" and to steal things? and money? Who does that?

    Karma will kick her ass. If it hasn't yet, it's waiting for the right time. Bitch.

  23. I can feel my blood boiling after reading this post. I was tearing up throughout the whole thing and now I feel like smashing that girl's face it. I know Karma exists and I hope it has caught up to her by now.

  24. People never cease to amaze and astound me. What a complete ass! And I'm putting it kindly because bad words don't come easily for me but believe me, I'm thinking them. Glad you found "home" in your new house. Hugs.

    PS, MHS recently went back "home" leaving me jealous and with that longing to return.

  25. That broke my heart.

    I'm so sorry and I'm at a loss for words.

    And so very happy that you have a new home you love.

  26. I've said it before but I'll say it again: you're a storyteller. Really. And what a sad, sad story.

    But how wonderful that you had that experience in such a magical place at all! Despite the horrible manner in which it ended.

    And yes, I fully believe in karma.

  27. Its shocking that she had the balls to call and ask in the first place. And then to trash it when you gave her everything. BITCH! She'd better look out. Karma will show her!

  28. hell. dang. things on top of things breaking my heart in this one...i was feeling all good as you described the sounds wonderous...and sorry...

  29. Holy shit.

    I have no words.


  30. That is truly awful. I can't imagine the karmic retribution for it. In fact I can't imagine a worse thing to do to someone than what that girl did.

  31. You are so like me. Karma. I truly believe in my heart of heart that karma is real. Melissa will get hers.

  32. The behavior of some people is so shocking. I truly hope that karma has caught up with her. This was so moving. Thank you for sharing.

  33. Who does something like that?!

    Mind boggling.

    And yes, I believe karma will send her a big fuck you if it hasn't already.

  34. It may take a while but I have faith that people like that always get their ass handed to them in the worse way. The guy who tortured my brother and I in grade school and junior high? In jail for drug dealing. Her arrest will come soon.

  35. People can be so duplicitous: capable of incredible kindness, and of incredible meanness. Your heart-breakingly honest writing illustrates the full range of both.

    While I firmly believe karma will ultimately find Melissa and give her the butt kicking she so clearly deserves, I'm inspired by the fact that you helped her at a time when you didn't need to. Your goodness is what stands out to me, and I know that virtue like this is rare. And it will be rewarded, too.

    Glad I found your site (via Goddess Writes). You have such a resonant way of sharing that it's hard to stop reading. So I won't. Hope that's OK.

  36. I am shocked to learn every time that people are not to be trusted, and the untrustworthy ones don't have a tell the rest of us can see so we stay clear of them. Your story is further proof that some people just suck. I wish I believed in karma or fate, but mostly I believe in random. Which may explain why I am spiteful when it comes to these things. I would have to hunt her down and demand something, take something through public shame, or at least write something damning to get any type of closure on this. Or engage a friend to help karma along a little bit, because some people are just rotten liars at the core, and the good guys need to stick together and look out for each other. Keep the fire alive.
    Glad you have somewhere else to love now, and hope you are a better person than I am. Well I know you are, because I'd have probably said no because I am only nice to a point. Maybe karma has a few things to teach me yet, only time will tell.
    Thanks for sharing your story, hope it helps a little to say it.


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