Yesterday, the sheriff came to my house with a Writ of Execution, he needed me to give him $2218.94 or he would have to take some of my stuff.
He reminded me of my first husband, with his sandy hair and the fact that his face was flushing. He stood on the door step with papers in his hands, looking official and a little embarrassed at the same time. I told him I had $20 in my wallet, and then I invited him into my house.
My boys were obviously curious and I allowed them to stay in the living room, Jake stood next to me--I think he was manning up by standing next to his mother. Ike was watching from the couch, I read the papers and realized that this was because of that credit card that I had oh so many years ago and I never paid it off.
The officer was explaining the paperwork to me--he asked me to give him the $20 that I had in my wallet and he said that if I didn't file a claim of exemption they would be back to get some of my stuff--he told me that they could take just about everything, even the couch.
I invited him to come into my home because having a sheriff at your house does cause the neighbors to wonder. We have had plenty of sheriff's in the last couple months--some kids broke into the Durango in July and the police got them, I have been getting subpoena's to testify.
And I, the woman who walks at night so that no one can see her invited him in to get him off my doorstep, and into my home.
When I left the living room to get my purse, I thought about that me that didn't want the meter man to ask to come inside her home, she had an officer of the law standing inside her home...her home that had clean floors and dinner cooking and two clean health boys. I left my bedroom door open so that he could see that my bed was made and I wished he would notice that there were not shoes and backpacks all over the floor.
I wanted to prove to myself that it really was okay to have a stranger inside your house, because their judgement of you would be good, even though he was coming to collect money for a debt that I had not paid.
When I came out with my wallet, I discovered I actually had $23, and asked him if I had to give him my extra three bucks. He blushed and hung his head and said, "Yeah, I am sorry I have to take all the money that you have."
Jake stood next to me and asked what was going on, and I reached out and brushed his hair: "this is from a credit card that I didn't pay many years ago and they are here to get their money. It is my fault--I am responsible for the money."
When I said it, I really meant and I--the woman who is afraid to talk to people in the grocery store because she might say the wrong thing--realized that I was telling the absolute truth, and accepting responsibility relieved me of the burden of shame.
The officer wrote me a receipt for my $23 and told us that he hated this part of the job--taking people's money--and that he was having to do it more and more because many people were defaulting on credit cards. He had also defaulted on a credit card, and he gave me paperwork to file for exemptions--I can keep $750 worth of furniture, and $1000 of jewelery and my tools.
He left on a friendly note, letting me know that there were ways around having my personal stuff taken and as he left I shut the door and understood that the woman who had panic attacks at the thought of answering the phone because it might be a bill collector was perfectly calm and collected when the sheriff came to my house to get some of what I owe.
My boys, of course, were a little bit shaken up. I suppose that having the cops inside of your home is disturbing for a youngster, probably one of those memories that get so permanently embedded that not even Alzheimer will shake them free.
"What are YOU going to DO?" my daughter asked when we set down to dinner using that voice of panic that I recognize so well because it uses the same tone as the thoughts inside my own head.
I think it is telling that she didn't ask me if I had called her dad to see what plan her parents had devised. She wanted to know specifically what I was going to do, because she holds me personally responsible for all of the big problems in life. She holds her dad responsible for acquiescing to her desires, and she holds me accountable for making sure that home and hearth are secured.
The woman who could barely make herself walk into a parent teacher conference set at the dinner table with the sum of her daughter's worry and she realized that her daughter was looking to her for a path. She is learning how to be a woman from me, and her disappointment in me stems from the fact that she believes that it is possible for her mother to take care of everything because SHE will be able to take care of everything in the future.
I told my daughter that I was going to fill out the exemption paperwork so we wouldn't lose our furniture or our computer and I told her I would let them have the four TV's that were in the garage.
"They are all broken" she said.
"I know. They can also have the refrigerator and the stove in the garage."
Jake chimed in, "They can also have the hide-a-bed and the two recliners!"
I looked out the window at the stuff piled in the backyard and began naming things that were in less than perfect condition--"They can take the red transAm, that must be worth something, and the trailer and those two lawnmowers."
She brooded as only a sixteen year old girl can, her disappointment stinging my nostrils and making my eyes water.I have felt the weight of her panic and disappointment in me for losing my job, she was most thrilled when I was earning enough money to support this family. She liked to take me for drivers so that I could tell her about the insurance, the 401k savings plan and the commissions that were automatically added to America Express cards. Many times during my physical illness, she asked me why I wasn't back to work yet and many times she asked me what we were going to do if I lost my job.
The fact is, the sheriff would have shown up last night even if I had not gotten sick and lost my job--but I wouldn't have been there to greet him, I would have been at work and the children would have been here alone. The truth is that even if I had stayed my course that I set on Independence Day, Pay Up day was still coming.
Last night, after feeding my kids brownies and washing the dinner dishes the woman who has been hiding inside house lying to herself when she believes that she needs to start taking pills to balance her endomorphines so that she can function in society.
I am not panicky and anxious and despondent and sleepy because of something that is imbalanced inside of my body--
It isn't something that I need to start taking to make me the woman I want my daughter to someday be--it is the things that I need to stop taking.