I can’t believe it’s been so long between posts.
There’s been a lot going on. My neighbor Sam went “South” on me a few weeks back. We’d had a somewhat cordial relationship … chatting, listening to tips and advice about living here in rural Randolph County, so it surprised me when one day I walked out back and said, “hi,” only to be greeted with, “WHAT CHER LOOKING AT OVER HERE!?!”
His new “girlfriend” elbowed him in the ribs, and he straighten up a bit. Being new here.. in rural North Carolina, I paused before reacting. (Maybe Sam had a hard day at the job… maybe something happened in the family … ) A lifetime of bad choices taught me not to fly off in reaction. I paused and tried to play it off… saying something about how what looked like a new deck he was building. Then walked away.
For the next two weeks, Sam showed me that a redneck from Pennsylvania is pretty much the same as a redneck from Alabama. Comments like “smart nigger” and “he’s paranoid” and “he don’t know the rules about messing wit no white man,” was heard. I sat working on my plants, confused… while the old drug counselor within me continued to listen. (Whatever a person projects onto another in hopes of hurting them is … them. It’s the content that hurts them about their self.) He’s an old Army vet in his 50s who works at some mundane job painting aircraft parts everyday. He he carried a monkey wrench for two years and never say any war, but for some reason he kept bringing up how I was a, “Security Policeman in the Air Force” as a defining fact about who I was. I’m a 61 year old Vietnam vet who walked with a dog every night next to or outside the wire. So .. what??? That was … over 40 years ago… I was 18. I’ve lived three lifetimes since then. And why wasn’t he bringing up any of my university degrees??
I have to laugh. Jealousy surprises me. Here was a poor ignorant guy constantly drinking beer (a.k.a. “liquid courage”) and attempting to less-than box of his own insecurities. He made some “joke” about my Buddhism and bowed in a way that unfolded it all for me. In my attempt to find sanctuary and fall in love with myself again, my vibes have created what I most feared (friction with my neighbors) and contact with yet another Narcissistic, Borderline Disordered alcoholic. (The “Sam the Man Show” or otherwise known as, “It’s all about me.”)
I build raised beds one weekend, this butt-wipe has to build an observation deck overlooking my yard. Now came the work. He only goes off when he’s full of beer and has an audience like his brother, friends, and his new girlfriend and her son. (The comments are “overheard”–not said directly to me.) If I caught him alone, he’d revert back to, “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth.” I have to step to him when he has another audience.
Trick is not to get mad … VERY difficult for a vet with PTSD and a Mood Disorder that can cycle so fast my emotions can run me into jail any time I bite. So I pulled up my Pema Chodron videos… on the gift of the trouble makers. Sitting with the feelings. The only real fear was to my ego … what gossip would do. I carry a .9mm and have shotguns strategically placed here and there and yes, any day is a good day to die.
Sitting with it a couple of days allowed Karma to begin unfolding. I’d begun planting fast growing trees and shrubs along our fence line. I repaired and increased the height of the fence between us. I was out watering the new trees one morning and he and his passive-aggressive lady friend sat staring at me. (Ignoring a narcissist is painful to them.) I glanced up and he waived.
“You waiving at me Sam?” I asked. He grinned and leaned his stupid head to one side. (Haters love to see you in fight mode.)
“Sam, this is your show-off show. I didn’t do a damn thing to you… but now I know who and what you are.” Silence. I poured another bucket of water slowly on a few more plants and then said:
“No need to waive at me Sam … I’m sure you’ll need that extra hand for your next can of liquid courage.”
I finished watering and as I walked away, another dumb blond on the deck with them asked, “What did he do in the service??”
“Security Police” Sam replied quietly… as if it were a put-down.
No need to answer a fool nor a damn fool.
Such is life in Randolph County, North Carolina.