An Evening To Remember

I don’t meet other people’s peeps. Or at least I try not to. I’m not the GF to meet your mom or go to family events. I’m not the friend you invite to someone else’s party because you don’t want to go solo.
Why?
I have social anxiety and I will fail you as a friend, socially, more often than not. I also have multiple physical health issues that, when they raise their ugly heads in public, make me embarrassed so I don’t like to do it.
And? I get attached way too easily to the people I meet. Then I find myself with all these people I suddenly care even the slightest bit about and my mental energy is spread so thin I can’t focus on myself.
Last night? I attended a party with my friend. It was a simple, small dinner party at a restaurant. And sure enough? I immediately had strong emotional energy towards one particular couple there. The girl is interested in knowing me. Her husband seemed to be interested as well.
And I want to know them. Each for different reasons. But also together because watching them together was kind of magical. The way they are in love? I remember being that in love in my own situation. It was nothing they said or did (I barely spoke to them) but an energy coming off them. They have a connection.
When I noticed the picture on the wall across from me was crooked and it started my anxiety (yes, OCD shit like that CAN give me panic attacks)? They both expressed concern, not anything I would feel bad for.
I got through the evening. Meeting my friends peeps, OCD issues, puking my way through a meal in a public place.
And in the end? I really hope to get to know this couple. They have a special energy coming off them. That energy made what could have been an anxious evening a delightful one!

Sisterhood

I met two women recently.

One I met as the mother of my friend. The other I met because my friend was driving out to pick her up and wanted company for the ride.

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‘The Painter’ is almost 87. She is the friend we picked up. ‘The Chocolatier’ is my friends mother and she is almost 82. We drove the distance to get/bring friend AND painting to mom.

When we walked through the door? Mom’s eyes lit up with some kind of light I have never seen before. “Oh, ….”, she was so delighted to see her sister friend. And after spending an hour or more listening to Painter chat with my friend, reminiscing about the past as we traveled? I can understand why.

These women have sisterhood. Their husbands worked together in the days of the 50’s/60’s where you developed friendships from co-working situations. They became friends, raised children side-by-side. Even through changes in life they remained friends, writing letters and having visits when they could.

Now they are in their elder years. Both their husbands have passed but they have each other.

It was such a beautiful experience to sit in the back seat of the car as my friend drove his mom’s friend to visit her. Hearing stories and memories. Understanding the closeness of the families. And then seeing his mom’s face light up as her friend arrived.

They are both thriving older women!! They are very much enjoying their visit, with shenanigans all their own. They are ‘sisters’ like I hope to have when I am almost 90.

It was very inspiring to me to meet two such wonderful women this weekend. I laughed with them, joked with them, learned some really cool history and felt love from their hugs.

Bowser Brian

My first encounter with Brian was when I first arrived to the island. I wanted to start a garden right away and his is the closest garden store. I needed all kinds of things and the bill rang up to around $50.

He only takes cash. I didn’t know that, nor did I come prepared for that. I was only disappointed for a moment before told it was no problem. He just took out his notebook, wrote down my name and what I owed. I could come in ‘just as soon as you can’ with the cash.

What? That’s like Little House On The Prairie. Olsen General store. And it gets better.

Local people bring their farm fresh eggs to his store and he sells them at a bargain price. He always has the best starter plants for your garden at better prices than I get at Walmart and I don’t get bugs from them.

I’m in a few Facebook groups that I have seen his name come across my newsfeed. Is your pet lost? Brian re-posts that. If a community member is lost? He’s out there organizing and helping with ground search parties. Is there a family in need of finding anything? If he isn’t proving it himself he is rallying the troops! At the Community Kitchen? He provides eggs to be given out for draws to the people who attend. And I can’t count the number of times I was there and heard the words, “Oh yeah, Brian brought that for us.”

He’s a community icon. A hero to many, I’m sure.

I was at his store yesterday looking for flea treatment for Sami. I didn’t quite have enough but I still went home with what I needed with a promise to return with the extra couple dollars. Instead, the the extra dollars were pitched in. And a package of vitamins for free. Kitty health is very important 🙂 Once again, Brian helped me.

Like many people I have encountered in my new community, Brian has a genuinely kind heart. I am sure he doesn’t know me from Adam but he is still someone who has impacted me with kindness several times and I will always remember that and pay it forward in any way I can.

The Brothers

They are older. They are attractive. They are talked about among every single woman in the park!

Myself? I met the first brother when I moved here. The second brother moved in to the park a few months later. Equally attractive. Single. I told my ex (husband at the time), “Those brothers have it going on! If you die? I’m going for one of them.”

However? My anxiety makes it hard for me to approach people I would like to know or be friends with. All the women talked about ‘the brothers’. They seem so popular that my high school instincts kicked in so I only smiled and waved at them instead of talking.

It was one of the brothers that asked me about the garage sale stuff. Tonight when I went up to find out what he has and what I should price it at, etc? I finally had the chance to spend time with BOTH brothers.

What fun! We talked about where we came from (we each came from other provinces). We drank wine/beer. We had a fire. We talked about Finland and Sweden and heritage. I finally got to see Tuomo’s famous sauna (with a promise I can go back for the full experience).

They are so funny, friendly and kind. I feel a smidge of regret for not getting to know them sooner. Why? Because they asked me tonight why I’ve never said more than three words to them.

I was comfortable by that point. I explained ~ I have social anxiety, and even though I am friendly in a reactive way? I don’t approach people. I told them I’ve secretly wanted to know them for a while but didn’t know how to talk to them.

So now I have more friends in the park! The brothers, while they found my intimidation about them amusing, have made me feel comfortable with them. They told me I can come knock on their doors at any time. They made me feel cared for. They’re a lot of fun!

I’m looking forward to spending more time with these great gentlemen!

 

Hanging Out With Jeff

I met Jeff about a year ago at one of the park parties. He was a guest of someone in the park. He remembers being at the party, but not me. His first memory of me was the next party (the Spring Fling). I was walking up the roadway in my tan dress with Ham N Asparagus Rolls in my hand .

Dreamy, eh?

Before we ever started ‘hanging out’ I heard through other people in the park that Jeff had a trailer to sell. A motorhome. I wanted my ex to have something other than a tent. So Jeff and I wheeled n dealed on it .

It had been stored a long time and was a bit run down to begin with! And old. And Jeff likes my smile. I made a really good deal with him! Very reasonable price with an extended payment plan that suits my income. A generous offer.

Since then?

Jeff used to work in collections. So he’s keeping close to me until I pay off the motorhome. Well, that’s the excuse. 😉 But we hang out as friends now and he is maybe the most kind person I have met in a long time.

My payment plan? $50/month for 6 months (yes, he sold me the motorhome for $300)

But! Big but. Jeff has taken me under his wing of friendship and kindness. For example? He buys a ton of groceries. I cook them up and package them into freezer meals. I take home a third. I tidy up, do laundry. He pays for wine and weed.

When I make my ‘motorhome payment’ each month? I give a bit extra. Because when it comes down to it? He is spending hundreds a month to collect that $50 payment!

Before anyone gets it in their head that this is anything more than a friendship? Or that there are other intentions?

I sleep on his couch when I am at his place. He’s always made it known his intentions are to ditch me by December. Once the motorhome is paid. We talk ‘smack’ to each other all the time. I’m downright cunty to him sometimes and he takes it.

It’s this odd kind of friendship I never expected.

He wants nothing to do with love or relationships. He sees I’m hung up on my ex and has already told me I am too much drama 🙂 I find it refreshing he sees that and respects it. I feel like I can be emotionally raw around him because he expects NOTHING of me.

Jeff is a very good friend to me right now. People come and go in life. But he’s a keeper friend! Gonna have to find a way to make him stick around after the motorhome is paid 😉

 

 

 

The Owner

On May 28, Facebook “Share A Memory” feature reminded me that it was exactly one year ago I arrived in this park. I’ve shared bits ‘n’pieces about my landlord before. I’m reminded today how truly lucky I was to land here and meet Mike.

We arrived with backpacks and a tent. Tired from such a crazy journey, compounded by reprieves in places that brought angst. We were looking for a place to rest and figure out where we were going from here.

The owner happened to be in the park (he isn’t always) and offered us a nice camping spot. He gave us a key to his cabin so we could shower. He didn’t ask for a dime. It was a few days before the 1st so he told us just to hang on and we’ll worry about it after. Just be comfortable and rest.

Two days later he pulled up with an older (like 1979) motor home. It was functional and he thought it might be easier for us than a tent so he offered to put it in a spot and we could just pay the pad rent on it. Like tenting for a month but with a shower and electricity. That’s how we decided to stay.

What a remarkable human being! He had permits to build up to 60 spaces in the campground but kept it to 30 so he could preserve most of the natural environment. It allows for every person here to have space between neighbours and beautiful yards.

He built the raised bed garden area and fenced it for deer. I casually mentioned this past week, at a bonfire he had for the whole park,  that rabbits are getting in the garden and slugs are a battle. So this week he is rabbit proofing and bringing in mulch to put around the beds. We can salt the mulch and totally prevent slugs. With the added bonus of it looking nicer and no mowing. But the point? HE makes it all happen.

He provides a guest Winnebago for anyone who has someone visit the park. Free of charge. But when my girlfriend came to visit from Winnipeg for Christmas? He gave her his cabin for the week.

cabin 2

He regularly throws park meet n greets so everyone knows each other. He pays for all the beverages and most of the food. More recently it’s been a bit potluck but he really provides most of it.

He forgave me for making a big ugly display in his park. He allowed me to stay here. He sold me the trailer I was renting (at a ridiculously low price) so I would feel like I have a sense of security in my housing.

There are people in the park who, at times, are down on their luck and Mike will let them work off part of their rent No matter what kind of a problem you have? You can approach him and he will help you. He is patient and understanding. He handles concerns with discretion and diplomacy. I’ve never heard him say an unkind word about another person, even when you can see he might like to.

All that is firsthand knowledge. If you include hearsay? He’s won awards for his kindness and generosity in the community. I’ve met people who hear where I live and instantly they know who the owner is and that he is a fantastic person. I obviously appreciate his kindness to me but I also see his kindness to everyone. He is beyond generous to everyone around him.

Yes. I am very thankful to live where I have such an amazing person as my landlord!

 

 

 

 

My Sister

Letter from Jaye

I have quite a few brothers and sisters. Between marriages, divorces and adoptions my family tree is more of a briar patch.

I have one sister that was in my life for the first twelve years. She is older than me and was my best friend. However she hurt our family deeply in the way she left and since then has rejected me entirely because I don’t support her version of her childhood truth.

I have a brother I knew well and he has taken a step back from me because he doesn’t agree with my lifestyle. Another brother I don’t know as well has told me my politics make me a danger to society and he doesn’t want me around his family.

I haven’t had much in the way of sibling relationship that hasn’t gone sour on me so I’ve avoided trying to get in touch with the rest of the sisters or brothers I haven’t met. Over the past two years I have reconnected with my biological father who has daughters I don’t know. He asked if I would write to one in particular.

I agreed and wrote two small letters and sent them off in the past couple months. I thought they were being ignored and was a bit sad but then today?

My Dear Sweet Sister,

The very first thing I want to say is that I am so terribly sorry this response to your kind (and very treasured) letters took so long. I am typing a real letter for you. I have scrapped several drafts, and it’s a shame, but my hectic life is in such a state that I only manage to type a bit at a time.

Your letters mean so much to me. I desperately want to know you more and I think it’s great you want to know me, too. I have loved, missed, longed for and prayed for you my whole life. I can tell from the way dad is getting to know you again that you are a wonderful woman and the kind of sister I have always wanted ❤

I promise to send more pics with my next letter, which I promise has a lot more details. Recent pictures of , me, dad, my best friends and my wonderful BF of three years.

I love you Shaunda. I can’t wait to develop a relationship and know you more.

All my hugs,

JJ

I cried. Yep, a big sappy cry of total happiness. I have a real blood related sister who wants to be real sisters. I’m a bit overwhelmed and looking so forward to spending a large portion of my day writing her back!

I have a sister!

Christopher

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I met Christopher today!  He gave me permission to use his picture (even posed for me) and his first name. I asked him a lot of questions and he said I could share about him freely.

How did we meet? He knocked on my door. He does yard work for a neighbour who knows I want to do things in my yard but can’t afford to pay a lot for help. She sent him to see if I needed help. He timidly introduced himself, told me what work he had done in her yard and let me know he would do work in my yard for whatever I could offer because he really likes to help people.

I showed him around my yard.

yard

I told him what plans I had for the area and what kind of work I needed done to get started but couldn’t do myself. He asked if I had anything he could do today? He could use smokes.

Absolutely! I have an area I want to put my fire pit but it needs to have some roots pulled out. I want it to be as level as possible before I put in gravel for the fire pit to sit on. I have a machete and a spade. He said he’d try to do what he could.

He worked hard for about an hour before I pulled him off the task. Even though he was doing a terrific job, he didn’t have the right tools. Not his fault. He told me he has a pick axe that he could bring back sometime and finish up. I assured him I will definitely have him come work for me because he worked hard the entire time. I made sure he had his smokes plus a bit of cash for his work. And the area is much more level, despite one stubborn root!

We sat in my RV, after he was done, and talked for a bit. He could see the vision I have for my yard. I had mentioned areas I will need to get mulch to fill things in. His idea? Use his pick axe to break up the root areas I need removed and then shovel that to where I need mulch. He showed me two different ways he could create my sitting area. He gave me ideas for how to build the step up to my hammock. His ideas for how to level things and re-purpose the torn out stuff in other areas? Brilliant!

During his introduction Christopher had told me he needs to be supervised while working. Reasonably, before I had him start working, I went up my neighbour and got a quick reference. She told me he works hard but not to offer him alcohol. That’s fine.

During our conversation after he had worked, and I could see he works hard, I asked him why he needs supervision and why I was told not to offer him alcohol.

Christopher has a brain injury. He was damaged in the womb. He also went through a vehicular accident at a month old that left him injured for life.He went to school but admits he only reads at a Grade 3 level. His math is about Grade 7. You can tell when talking with him that he has had a brain injury. But you can also tell he has tried very hard to learn. He articulates himself well.

I was amazed at how open he was talking about it. He told me how he knows he can’t do certain jobs. He’s very proud that he can do all kinds of physical work, which he can. He’s proud of his creativity. As he explained the things he could do to help in my yard his eyes lit up. He mentioned he was instrumental in the work that went into building this park. He told me he thinks of himself as an artist when he is working in the yard.

He also told me he knows I have a limited income, like him. But his needs aren’t many. A pack of smokes here and there. Cook him dinner after he’s worked in the yard and send him home with a couple bucks in his pocket. He is as excited about my yard as I am. He knows he can help me with my yard like I can help him with homemade meals.

It all sounds like a perfect match, right?

After he left I went up to another neighbours. The park owner was there. Because Christopher had helped build this place? I asked the owner about him.

He didn’t tell me anything Christopher hadn’t already told me. Except for some things I suspected.

For example, he’s unreliable. That comes with health issues. The park owner understands that and is part of why he tried to give Christopher work. He did say that when Christopher IS there he works hard and has talent!

I was told Christopher is known for having a drug problem. That comes with  poverty and  a life of rejection, prescription meds etc. I suspected this because I have a personal history with drugs and I can tell signs of addiction. I just protected myself and my home appropriately. But it makes him a questionable character where I live. Something important to factor in.

He should be supervised at all times. I was told that by Christopher himself. He shouldn’t drink while he is working. I already knew that too.

Some other neighbours chimed in with their ideas that he shouldn’t be allowed in the park at all. The park owner told me Christopher had been seen skulking about and had, at one time, been banned.

I told the owner I wouldn’t have Christopher come back if he wasn’t allowed. Other neighbours were happy with that idea.

But the owner? He sees the kindness in my heart and he has kindness in his own. He told me I could have Christopher come and do a few things in my yard as long as I supervised him and walked him out of the park when he was done. He knows Christopher needs the bit of help, I could use the ‘grunt’ work  and the quality of work I’ll get!

I have no issue with helping someone who has an addiction until the moment they use that to hurt me. I understand the risks. He was open with me and gave me references he knew would be honest. And he needs help as much as I do.

I can’t give him alcohol, so I won’t drink around him. That’s good for me! I want to help in my yard as much as he wants to work in it so he’ll be supervised and I’ll get exercise. That’s good for me! He is open and honest so I think I can learn some things about how to approach my own life from him! Good for me.

So? I have a landscaper. His name is Christopher.