Although my husband and I have been very content living in our apartment adjacent to our outlet grocery store, I am ready to rock the sunset into dusk on our front porch while overlooking the fog-swathed Cumberland Mountains. I am ready to blare Andrea Bocelli without having to worry that the customers will overhear. I am ready to wake up to the sun, which will seem as odd as a nuclear explosion after three years waking up in our windowless bedroom.
But, as in everything, I also know that with this new home there will be things to miss about the old: Oddball characters being one of them.
I recall how my husband had walked up into our apartment and was standing against the kitchen sink, taking a long pull on a glass of water, when he heard the toilet flush and an ancient woman in an ankle-length flowered skirt and razored white hair stumbled out of our bathroom. She was just as shocked to see a man standing there as he was having a complete stranger taking advantage of our private plumbing facilities. To her credit (and my husband's) neither of them screamed, and I came up and we carefully led the woman back down the steps into our store. She was so incredibly feeble, it was a mystery to us how she had ever climbed up them.
Then there was the time I was sitting on the couch late one evening, typing on my laptop, when I heard someone jiggle the locked handle to our front door. Not only did the person jiggle it, but he twisted and pulled as if trying to force it open. My head popped up, and I looked over at the turning door handle in horror-movie disbelief. I then slapped my hands on either side of my face (a la Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone) and screamed, "Somebody's trying to break in!"
Being the go-getter that he is, my husband slapped open the door between our office and apartment, tore across the living room, unlocked and flung back the front door. He was going to wrestle the robbers barehanded, I guess. Three minutes later, he came inside and looked at me sitting on the couch while still trying to decide if I should grab a tennis racket and go help my husband or call 911.
"The cops..." he breathlessly explained. "They were doing their rounds, and they tried the door to make sure it was locked."
Since my 6'2'' husband came charging after the LPD, they haven't been back to do their security rounds. I think they figure with such an intrepid owner, our store does not need their assistance.
This past fall, when my father had just started living with us three days a week while working part time on his and my mother's new house neighboring ours, my husband and I heard a knock on the door. I decided it must be my father coming back to get a tool he had forgotten, so I casually walked over in my bathrobe and slippers and opened that front door wide.
My face burning just as brightly as the FedEx man's, I slammed the door shut just as he -- not knowing what else to do -- held the computerized clipboard out and mumbled, "Sign here." Being far more modestly garbed, my husband went outside to talk to the FedEx man who kept apologizing over and over since he thought the door that said "Private" just referred to our offices.
Then there was the Monday afternoon I went up to the apartment for a snack and saw a maroon SUV parked right next to our Jeeps. By the time we had closed the store the SUV was gone, but the next Monday -- sometime in the afternoon -- it reappeared. I didn't think too much of it since many people will use our parking lot as a meeting point, but one time I just so happened to go outside for the mail and witnessed the man and woman who were meeting outside our store.
The man wore a white collared shirt, slacks, tie, polished shoes, and a dull wedding band. The woman in the SUV wasn't so nicely groomed. She had badly permed and peroxidized hair that sprayed around her face in fried little tufts. Her makeup was so thick it surely wouldn't melted down her wattled neck if she stared too long at the sun. She wasn't dressed like the profession I suspected her of and the soccer-mom SUV threw me off so much that I told myself I had to be wrong. But then I went inside and waited. I stood there and nibbled on an apple for ten minutes instead of my usual two. I then slitted open the blinds and checked to see if the man's tan car was gone.
Walking outside as if to get something from my car, I looked over at the motel located right next to us and my suspicions were immediately confirmed. The tan car was now parked over at the motel. Two hours later, the SUV and the tan car were both gone.
The next Monday, when I went up to the apartment for the snack I had no appetite to consume, I looked out the window and saw the woman getting out of her maroon SUV and into the married man's car. I was so infuriated by the situation that I ran down into the store and told my husband I had seen them again.
Knowing exactly who "them" was, my husband ran up through the store and out the apartment. The man and woman had left our parking lot and were now over at the motel. Peering through the blinds, I watched my husband stalk over to the motel right toward that tan car. He then said something to the couple and pointed back to our store.
One minute later, the man dropped the woman off at her SUV, and they pulled out of the parking lot in their separate vehicles, but not before the woman spewed her limited vocabulary upon my husband.
When he came inside, I asked what he had said to get them to leave. He just shrugged. "I told them I knew what was going on, and they couldn't use our parking lot for such things. If they ever came back, I told them I'd report their license plate numbers."
"Could you?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Probably not, but they don't know that."
Now, as I type these stories, I am sitting on my front porch overlooking the softly rolling Cumberland Mountains, and I find that I am so eager to move here that the time until we do cannot come quickly enough. But then, I know that I must remember: My husband and I wouldn't appreciate this picturesque setting if we hadn't lived in our apartment adjacent to our grocery store and experienced all the oddities and oddballs who came along with it.
So, thank you, disoriented elderly lady, the local police force doing their nightly rounds, red-faced FedEx man who was definitely not my father, and the couple who I hope are a couple no more. Y'all've certainly made these three years interesting, I'll give ya that.