Wandering

0406181517_HDR_resizedThe wind in this part of eastern North Carolina is choppy and unrelenting sometimes. What is good for the land and wildlife can knock my wind chimes down and chip paint off lanterns. After three seasons of picking up shingles in the yard, I decided it was time for a new roof.  The shingles arrived on a pallet and the next morning, an hour past dawn, a caravan of pickups with two roofing crews arrived.

I left. Not only did I not want to bear hours of hammering and the invasion of strange men, I have PTSD from the time after I was widowed in Virginia, nearly 20 years ago, when a nice man, one of my Girl Scout dads, offered to do work on my house. He tore off a rotted window sill, took down all my storm windows for painting, and then never did the repairs or painting. He was going to put a new roof on, too. Months passed. Finally, I came home from taking my children to visit their grandmother and there was water damage from our kitchen ceiling. I added up the checks I had paid him for materials and crews for work as yet undone. Over $9,000! I got a lawyer to write a strongly-worded letter, but that did no good. He still had one excuse after another. I planned to sue, and got the recommendation of another roofer. I explained to the new roofer what the situation was, and he said, “Oh no, not that guy!” I went to the police, and it turned out my nice Girl Scout dad had a three-page rap sheet from ripping off homeowners. The new roofer put my roof on, I got a recommendation of a painter, a friend fixed the window sill – and I went to court over the guy who scammed me. I did get the money back, eventually, but the whole experience of being victimized as a new widow was very traumatic.

So on this day of a different house and a new roof, I went wandering to avoid the crews. First I went to Selma and volunteered in the visitor center, working on my writing. I ate a packed lunch, and then stopped by the Selma Public Library to read The Selma News and Time magazine. After that I drove to Princeton, about 10 miles away, to drink a cup of really good coffee in Milltown Java, while I read the third and last part of “Local Souls,” a book by Allan Gurganus. By that time it was about 3 pm, so I drove past the house to see what was happening. I did not even enter our street, as I could see from the intersection that the house was covered with blue tarps and rope lines and ladders. Men, swarming like a colony of fire ants, were everywhere. So I kept driving and went to Town Market to buy some carrots and strawberries. I took the food to the Harrison Center for Active Living. The seniors were having a Friday Spring Fling. Others brought a cheese ball and shrimp and chili dip and crackers and deviled eggs – lots of deviled eggs – and this platter of pineapple rings, each cupped by a lettuce leaf. At the center of each pineapple ring was a dollop of Duke’s mayo and a maraschino cherry. I ate deviled eggs and shrimp and then danced the Cupid Shuffle with this little girl in the activity room. She was a friend of the director, out for spring break from elementary school. She let me comb the hair on her eight Barbie dolls, too, although one was Elsa from “Frozen,” which I have to admit, I have not seen.

By the time I got home from my wandering, 12 hours had passed. The crews had completed their work and whisked away any evidence of materials. There is a beautiful new roof on the house, just in time for April showers.

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