The folks’ house had stood empty for some time and it seemed so strange not to have them there. Then the daycare that was created to support the school lost its director and the church started casting about for a new one. A young woman and her family were moving to the area and she was hired. They needed a place to live and rented the old home place. They were good neighbors and it turned out I knew her from years before when she was growing up.
After going up and down (or down and up) the mountain in all sorts of weather, they decided they would move into town. I could vouch for the wear and tear on a vehicle, let alone the old bod.
When they moved out, the house was empty just briefly and then the young woman’s sister and her husband moved in. I was lucky again to have such nice neighbors. They looked after me and, over the years, they rescued me many a time. They still do. Eventually, they bought the place and became permanent residents (if anything on Planet Earth can be permanent). They’ve been there through all the changes I’ve gone through.
I didn’t have to wonder long if BF would call me. He did and he asked me out to eat. We met at Mickey D’s and I left my car there while we went on to a steak house buffet. The food was awful and he piled his plate with dead animal parts. I was shocked! His mother had raised him as what was by this time known as vegan. It had been my assumption that, while he might not still be vegan, he’d at least be a vegetarian. Not so! It was just the first in a long line of revelations.
It was just as well the food wasn’t tasty. I was still wrestling with whether or not to take the job as business office manager and my appetite was missing in action. I picked at my food while he made inroads on his.
Then we went to Dollywood. On the way, we stopped at an apple place that was similar to the one near my home except this was ‘way bigger. We went to the pie kitchen and I ordered a turnover. It was good but I couldn’t handle more than half. That was when I told him I’d decided to take the job. When he wanted to get an idea of how much I would be making, I told him they could have had me for less months before. He got a kick out of that. What I didn’t know is that they were still getting a real deal at my expense.
He hadn’t been to Dollywood for years and, bless his heart, when we got to the ticket window he pulled out a $20 bill and asked for two adult tickets. The woman told him the price and he blanched. I guess he hadn’t gone better prepared and he had to give her his credit card. Live and learn.
We strolled around the place with our hands in our pockets. It was November and cold. We took in several of the shows and some of the tamer rides and then it was back to his house where I’d left my car.
He introduced me to two of his three daughters and then took me to the family room in the basement. He wanted me to see his entertainment system with surround sound. It was very nice. To demonstrate it, he put in his favorite movie—Waterworld. I’d never seen it. I’d heard about it and what a dud it was but since he liked it so much, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I made it through maybe a fourth of it and took my leave. I had to work the next day and it would be more than an hour before I would get home.
He called again to take me to dinner (we call it supper in these parts). That time, we ate at the local Chinese restaurant where I showed him I know how to handle a pair of chopsticks. By the time we left, my hair and clothes had absorbed the smell of the grease they used to cook all manner of body parts.
Through all of this, he talked about where we would go and what we would do. Evidently, it was tradition for he and his family to go to one of the islands off the coast of Florida and he wanted me to enjoy it, too. Then there was the cruise that he was imagining. He had big plans.
He would talk about women he had dated. He’d look at the people around us and criticize their clothes and hair. Gradually, I began to wonder about him.
Over the weeks, he told me about some of his health issues. They weren’t anything serious but then he said he liked to take a drink now and then. Well, I didn’t by that time but a lot of people did. They were perfectly nice people and I wasn’t going to condemn them or him.
But, oh boy! He called me one night (we could talk for hours and he’d make sure to call me when he got free minutes on his cell phone) and it was obvious he had been drinking. He started talking in a way he never had before. The alcohol had definitely loosened his tongue. It made me uncomfortable so I made some excuse to hang up sooner than usual.
I was planning to go see DD the next weekend but BF had other ideas. He and his daughters were going to a hockey game some 100 miles away and he wanted me to go with them. I tried to put him off and said I’d go some places with them after Christmas but my time with DD came first. That didn’t go over well at all and it wasn’t long before the phone was silent at night. I told my sister about all this and her comment? “Well, my dear, I think you dodged a bullet.” I had to agree.
Through all this, we had never even as much as held hands. At least I didn’t have any regrets.
With my new job as the BOM came the requirement for me to go to California to “train” on the computer system I’d been using for years. When one of the IT people found out I would be flying out there, he said, “You know more about the @#$*# system than I do.” I told him to shut his mouth. I like to travel. Especially if someone else is paying for it.
The CFO decided I shouldn’t go alone. She made arrangements for one of the people from the main Home Health office to accompany me. I guess all my solo traveling didn’t qualify me for this. That was fine. It’s always more fun with someone else to share it with.
I took off work early one day so I could go buy some luggage. The reservations were made and I packed my bags.
Then, it was off to California…