The perfect storm

The perfect storm blew into my life recently. No, it wasn’t another Katrina or Rita but it did do some pretty significant damage. And no, I haven’t even given this significant event a name yet. I did name it actually, but only for a minute; a really good name in fact!

It all started on a recent Thursday afternoon. I was driving home from working chattering on the phone with my mom when the other line beeped in. I looked at the number, recognized it and made the best decision I could given the fact that I was on the phone with my mom and trying to stop her in mid-sentence is an exercise in futility (FYI…I am my mother’s child). I figured the caller would leave a voicemail; he did, informing me he was in LA and would be catching a ride to our house on Friday with T and Paris. The final part of the message included a “call me” which indicated that perhaps the plans weren’t set in stone. I ignored the request. In fact, when T and I talked on Thursday evening we both quite naturally assumed that the likelihood of us having a houseguest was pretty slim (let’s just say this friend has a reputation for being a little bit flaky).

Friday morning dawned early and was busy from the get-go! By the time I wrapped everything up that evening and left for home I was pooped. As I pulled up to my house I noticed that the front blinds were drawn shut. That seemed odd given the time of day and proximity my big picture window is to the ocean. The reason became perfectly clear soon enough as I walked in and found my friend sound asleep on the sofa. I was tired and didn’t even bother to wake him up. I just warmed up some leftover Meatloaf, made a fabulous margarita, and began the quickening descent into dreamland. By 9:30p I was safely tucked into bed soon to be joined by T.

At 10:15p I was awakened by a shadowy figure standing over me whispering at a level designed to wake the dead:

“Hey! Wake up! I can’t figure out how to work the remote for the DVD player.”

Problem solved and sleep resumed. At 10:45p I was again wakened. This time the voice said:

“Hey! I’m hungry! You mind if I have some of that meatloaf in the fridge.”

Problem solved but sleep didn’t come so easily this time. By 11p dishes were clinking and clattering and a movie was started, complimented by full surround sound. A request for the volume to come down was greeted by a very agreeable friend who didn’t wish to disturb us. Volume lowered half a bar (big woo). Soon the door between the hall and the dining room slammed shut bringing some relief, but not for long as it banged open and slammed shut every couple of minutes for what seemed like an eternity. As I drifted off for the last time, I sighed to T “damn he’s loud!”

By 7a we were up with a pot of coffee brewing and a snoring houseguest on the sofa. I pulled the blinds up rather noisily as there was no need to let sleeping beauty on the sofa destroy my early morning view of the ocean. “Damn!” I heard. “You guys are loud in the morning!” Apologizing we sent him off to Paris’ room and went about making bacon, egg and cheese croissants to be eaten while watching The Longest Yard.

As Saturday mornings go, it was perfect. Except that ALL the leftovers in the fridge had been eaten (literally) and empty soda cans littered the counters, dining room and coffee tables (yippee). As the credits rolled on the movie, I started my ritualized fluff-n-stuff, slide-n-hide, once-over of the house. I noted, during a pass over the hall floor, that our houseguest was still asleep. At noon he got up, ate the rest of the cereal and said we should go play pool over a beer. I put him off because I really had to take care of a couple of things. He went back to bed. Finally, at 6p he got out of bed mentioning that we had been awfully loud on his day of “rest.” I snorted something out of my nose, finding myself in no mood for his little “joke.”

On the best of days I’m challenging to live with. Actually psychotic might be a better word. I have perfectionist issues and if things deviate from the plan I get real on edge. I’m also a control freak and when I loose it, you can pretty much guarantee a melt-down. Combine that with a 9 year old who is ALL boy and his 40 lb Korean Jindo/Shiba Inu mix and you’ve got a recipe for a disaster. But, somehow I’ve managed to develop a very delicate balancing act that works well for all of us (most of the time anyway). The levee’s of New Orleans, at least the temporarily repaired levees, probably best describes that balancing act and by Sunday morning they had been breeched and I was very quickly unraveling.

A little time has pasted since the perfect storm blew into my life and I’ve had some time to really think. Then, this moring I was hit with a thought that hadn’t occurred to me…not even once. I had been calling him Hurricane Houseguest. Turns out, the more appropriate name would have been Hurricane JB.

You see, my friend is going through a world of hurt right now. His 18 year old son is strung out on drugs. His 15 year old daughter has been habitually running away from home and is also strung out on drugs. And, to top it off, he’s dealing with his own addiction. Not to mention the legal problems stemming from his divorce that have landed him in jail several times this year for back child support issues. His income has dropped significantly this year and he’s trying to figure out how to keep a roof over him and his kids. He’s such a great guy but, like most of us at one time or other, has made some poor decisions.

What he really needed this weekend was to come to the beach, kick his feet up, sleep a whole lot, enjoy some great food and wine and maybe spend a little quality time with his friends. What he got was this perfect storm who apparently couldn’t sacrifice just a little bit for someone who needed him.

This morning I was reminded of a story from the scriptures of when Jesus was visiting with some of his friends; Mary, her sister Martha and brother Lazarus. Mary was busting her butt cooking and cleaning and probably driving everyone to distraction (I know this because I do this…very well). Martha on the other hand was hanging out in the family room with Jesus. In fact, while they were hanging out in the family room, Martha decided to wash his feet and then put some expensive lotion on them. Mary was PISSED! She was so pissed in fact that she lost it and went off…on her houseguest. She told him about how hard she had worked. She told him about all the other stuff she was doing to make everything perfect for his visit all the while her sister was hanging out. What Jesus told her must have been like a slap in the face. He said that what Martha was doing had more value.

My houseguest just needed a friend. Instead he ran smack into me; the perfect storm. He needed a lot of hugs! Instead he got kicked off of the couch and told to quiet down! I don’t quite know where it was that I lost the “vision” or the big picture but I did. I do know that the next time I’m given the opportunity to show love to someone who is really fighting off the darkness, I’m not going to worry so much about dirty dishes, cleaned-out fridges or empty soda cans litering my counter tops. I’m just gonna hang out and enjoy being with them. And if that means I wake up on a Monday morning to a house torn apart then so be it! That’s what Molly Maid is for!

I love you my friend!


Categories: Confession, Grace, Growth, Relationships | Leave a comment

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