It was the first time we openly shared the fact that we were broke -it felt odd. Part of me was relieved, the other part felt ashamed. Later that evening, we told him OUR STORY, not for pity or sympathy, but because we needed to confront reality. We had been so sheltered and comforted at my friend’s home, we had been so busy, it almost felt like we had been hiding from the harsh truth that we still were homeless (house-less), and had nothing but debt to our name.
We had been driving around for a while, then we stopped at the local diner, where Ron, the owner, greeted us nicely. We ordered something to drink, it was too early to drive back home. “You guys want something to eat?” Ron asked and when we shook our heads, he added, “I see, nothing’s good enough?” He was joking, his smile gave it away. It smelled so wonderful and the steaming plates coming out of the kitchen made my mouth water.
We couldn’t afford to eat out as planned, the missing envelope with the emergency money was an issue. We had looked in the car and in my purse, had tried to remember when we had taken it with us the last time. Who took it, and who put it back, and if we put it back, who stole it, or did my friend need it and just forgot to tell us?
“We cannot afford to eat out right now, that’s why we don’t order anything,” and quickly my husband added, “I am not telling you this to get dinner out of you, but because it is the truth and we sometimes forget.”
After we told him the truth, Ron sat down with us. We talked about the smokehouse, his restaurant, and his butcher shop, about our past and his family’s history. We discussed the economy and the recession, talked about the hope so many of us had for the new year 2010.
My husband took my hand in his. We were in this together.
Before we left, I asked Ron if he could recommend a jewelry appraiser because I trusted his recommendations. He wanted to know why, and I told him the truth. “We might have to sell it all,” and I made it sound like it wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a big deal anymore. Anything and everything that would help us was now ‘fair game.’
“Who will be in the Smokehouse when you guys leave?” he asked and again we told him the truth.
“We don’t know yet.” Sadly, the current trouble between Kurt and my friend had been very time-consuming, and we hadn’t talked about it.
We all, including my friend, had worked very hard to get her Sausage Kitchen off the ground, and we all had every reason to be proud of ‘our’ success.
Making her dream come true, had prevented us from thinking too much, had allowed us to play house for a while, but now with Kurt there, we didn’t want to stay longer than needed, and not just because of him. Every couple in love, no matter what the age might be, deserves privacy. We missed having a place to call home. We missed being alone.
Ron invited us for dinner anyway, which we politely declined. We were hungry, but not starving. We had everything we needed, and it was time to accept the fact that we would not be able to afford small luxuries like dining out for a very long time.
Back at the house, my friend and Kurt were waiting for us at the kitchen table. They had made up and my friend now wore a very delicate engagement ring. I used the word ‘delicate’ because what I really thought of the ring, will show once again how judgemental I still was. PAWNSHOP was the first word that came to my mind. She deserved so much better, was my second thought, and I am not sure if I still meant the ring.
I have worn a small ring bought at a Walmart for a very long time, and I had loved it as dearly as a Princess would love her 10-carat diamond ring. On one special anniversary, my husband replaced it with very dramatic-looking diamond bands, and at first, I didn’t want to give my original wedding ring up. Why update something that means so much? Of course, I accepted the new, shiny symbol of our love, but never let the old ring go. I wore it one on my right hand for many years, until one day the gold band had become so thin and brittle that it broke.
Every bride wears her new engagement ring with pride and joy and shows it proudly to the world. My friend was no expectation. She looked happy again and for the life of me, I could not share her joy but maintained a fake smile on my face. I was a shitty friend.
When I started to explore Buddhism, I was quickly drawn to it. For the first time, there was guidance given by a religion -even though Buddhism technically, because there is no God, is a philosophy and not a religion. Words can hurt.
So many of us have been harmed with phrases and sentences, as children or adults and while we try to forget, we mostly fail. Words spoken in anger cut deep, often cause excruciating pain for a very long time, sometimes they cripple us for a lifetime.
Finding the balance between the tone of my voice and the words I use had become a goal in my life. While I am very outspoken, I try not to harm or offend if I can avoid it. I share my opinions. I sometimes even push people I don’t want around me anymore forcefully away, but never in anger. Never do I belittle or call names.
Sarcasm is one of my trademarks. I can be cynical nevertheless, I watch what I say.
Seeing Kurt sitting at the table made me aware of my true feelings toward him. I could not stand this guy and no matter what I tried, or how much I wanted to convince myself to give him a chance, I wanted nothing to do with him. Talking to him in a calm, friendly manner had gotten harder.
That evening, when my friend showed me her ring, I looked behind her and the glaze I gave Kurt should have given him a warning.
The next day, our dogs were running down the old gravel road again. Kurt had forgotten to close the screen door behind him -again. The dogs came back ten minutes later. It angered us so much. My husband wanted to talk to Kurt and I talked him out of it, almost begged him to leave it up to me. Something inside told me it was healthier for Kurt if I had a talk with him.
I went into the house.
Kurt was going through some paperwork at the table. He hardly lifted his head when I walked in. I thought about what I wanted to say, debated if I should be kind and understanding (pretending) or if I should make a statement, even though it goes against my beliefs. Maybe the way we would look at each other would decide it for me?
I got a bottle of ice tea out of the fridge, leaned against the counter, and waited for Kurt to look at me. He did and when our eyes met, my floodgates opened wide.
“If the dogs get hurt or run over by a car because you are too dumb to lock the screen door behind you, or you let them escape on purpose, you will be sorry you ever met me.” He opened his mouth.
“I am not done yet. If you hurt my friend physically or emotionally, you will regret you ever met us.”
“If you steal from us or her -again,” there will be consequences.
I finished my tea, turned around to dispose of the empty bottle.
“Are you threatening me?” Kurt asked, and I wondered what the right reply would be. In the movies and in books, they never admit a threat, they call it a promise, or simply deny it.
“Yes,” was my simple answer. I left the house and walked back to the smokehouse.
A weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I had spoken my peace. I was wondering if he would follow me, but knew he would chicken out. I didn’t mention the incident to my husband or my friend. It wasn’t important enough. I had taken a stand, had made clear Kurt knew I wasn’t his friend. It felt so good.
My husband didn’t ask any questions when I walked back into the kitchen, he just looked at me. My hands were shaking and I needed to sit down for a minute -so typical of me. I always seem to fall to pieces after I play Superwoman. Who am I anyway? The strong one who will go head forward into a confrontation when necessary, or the calm one, who is searching for inner peace. I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe both -Yin and Yang?
Kurt must have not mentioned our little talk either, or he did and my best friend decided to leave it alone. It never came up. He left Sunday in the evening, didn’t even say goodbye to us but he took another $200 of inventory with him. This time my husband made sure my friend knew about it, handed her the receipt “Kurt’s personal use.”
Kurt would come back the Friday before Valentine’s Day. We had two very busy weeks ahead of us.
The first weekend in February we sold a lot of products because of the Super Bowl, the New Orleans Saints were playing in it, and it seemed like every neighbor had a Cajun meal planned or they had a Cajun-style BBQ that Sunday. The next weekend was the last weekend before Mardi gras. It was also the weekend of Valentine’s Day, an event we had decided to skip for one year.
Kurt came back Wednesday, two days earlier than planned. We heard a car pull up late in the evening. There was lots of noise in the driveway and a short while later there was a knock on the door. Kurt stood outside, surrounded by lots of luggage. He didn’t have a house key anymore.
He had gotten fired, an inevitable occurrence when you screw over the one person who helped you get your job. Laurie’s husband had told the owner about Kurt and the rent situation, had also mentioned his fiancee’s.
Karma…oh, how I love it.
My best friend didn’t like the news. She didn’t say a word, but her facial impression showed me what she thought.
“This is perfect,” I blurted out. “Now he can help in the kitchen and work hard.” I had a satisfied smirk on my face, I didn’t even try to hide it. I loved the situation. Not the fact that Kurt had lost his job, because no matter who you are, or what you have done, being unemployed is tough. In his case, however, I felt it was indeed Karma biting him in the buttox and I thought he needed to get involved in the kitchen, needed to learn to make sausages.
Monday, the day before Mardi gras or Shrove Tuesday, the phone rang and the company in Indianapolis offered my husband the position. He had done the unthinkable and had been hired over the phone. The money they offered was less than what we had hoped for, but so much more than we had.
We wanted to wait to share the news until after dinner, but the moment my friend came out of her bedroom in the afternoon, after she had changed into her beloved sweatpants, my husband told her. The kitchen was still open, but we just couldn’t wait any longer.
Her face was so full of joy, she was happy for him, happy for us, and it showed. There was nothing fake about it or staged. She grabbed her car keys, told me to come with her, and when I wasn’t reacting fast enough, she almost pushed me out of the door. “We need to get a bottle of champagne,” she explained to me with a voice that made me feel like a moron. “We need to celebrate,” and now she looked at me like I wasn’t the sharpest cheese on the cracker.
We did buy the Champagne, and I know she didn’t do it because it was an excuse to drink, but because we had always celebrated big events with a bottle of champagne, and this one was perhaps the most important event ever -at least for us.
My husband, who normally doesn’t like the ‘fizzy stuff’ took a glass, so did my friend and I. Kurt excused himself and went to the bedroom.
The three of us celebrated like we always have. We talked above each other, hugged, and made plans.