Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Enough Already: Morals, Values, and Freedom*

I know a woman who believes
enough is never enough.
She comes from a wealthy family
while some have it rough.

Everything she gets is free
from our government, you and me,
yet she hails from a different country.
Thank God for her, America’s the land of the free…
home, food, car, gym membership, medical treatment…

There was a woman whom I had wanted to meet for quite some time. I’d see her strolling alone while I walked and talked with my hiking partner. It was obvious this woman was angry: her face emanated it. But it struck me as curious, because her ethnicity is often associated with peace.

One day in January 2003 as I hiked alone, I approached her, said hello, and asked if I might join her. She quietly and reservedly welcomed the idea with an apprehensive smile.

A pretty woman with nutmeg-toned skin and henna-colored hair, her English was understood fairly easily, but her thin body walked uneasily. Being forthright, I told her that I had wanted to meet her for months. I shared threads of my life and asked her about hers—what brought her here and when. Cautiously she offered some answers but sidestepped most questions by suspiciously “forgetting” segments of her life. Her omissions compounded her mysterious nature. She seemed intelligent, so I deduced that her forgetfulness was intentional and the thoughts she chose to share were selectively accessed.

Soon after meeting, I invited her over for wine, tapas, and conversation. Our energy blended into comfortable laughter, and I saw her anger subside. It was as if our souls knew each other. That’s when the friendship began.

I’d invite her to my parties and holiday gatherings, to which she proudly wore colorful, flowing clothes. She met many of my friends and even allowed some to hug her, rather than just bowing a namasté greeting. I learned that she had come to Oregon years ago to live with a communal group, where they shared a common culture. Everyone contributed to the whole, led by a man who brought peace, value, and deeper meaning to their lives.

It was a neat concept to me. Raised in the Midwest by workaholics, my lifestyle was more driven, more stressful. There were no handouts. Even as a child, if I wanted something, I worked to earn it. I hadn’t felt peace living with my parents. And by the look on this woman’s face, her peace was fleeting.

Within months of knowing her, a mad, selfish child erupted from this 65-year-old woman’s depths. She’d call at my busiest time of day and demand that I help her with a medical or legal issue, or advise her on her new car purchase and how to deal with financial matters. She’d have a communications problem with another, then need to understand a word’s definition.

She never asked, “Are you busy?” or “Do you have a moment?” Like an inconsiderate child, she demanded my attention. She no longer contributed to our relationship. Her rapid-fire questions never opened space for a response. When I would start to reply, she’d garrulously speak over me.

Though she doesn’t permit many to know her, her energy is felt by many. The managers of her apartment complex lost patience with her threats and complaints, so they encouraged her to move. After one year of living in a brand new, beautiful apartment, she chose to move back into her previous neighborhood. I researched possible places for her, gave her information, shared crime stats.

But listening is not her forté. Being demanding and living free are.

This woman-child frequents doctors’ offices because of an injury sustained at the hands of a doctor, the purported reason for her torment. Visits to the hospital emergency room for unrelated problems are too frequent for one without earned income. She walks to the gym when conditions are good and rarely drives her brand, new all-wheel-drive car; I see it parked in the lot by the latest apartment she complains about.

Recently I referred a handyman-painter friend to this woman—another momentary lapse of reason. He later told me he’d met her, felt sorry for her, and would paint her entire apartment for $350—an $850 job. I said he was being conned. I was embarrassed for referring him, hurt by her imposition, and told the woman just that. He still went to her apartment to paint, but she immediately told him to leave. I haven’t heard from her since.

As my mom used to say, “Enough already!” And now I’m free!

* This essay lacked in finding any humor in this mediocrity.

copyright © 2008 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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