Why is it that even the thought of the beach makes you feel totally relaxed?
My husband and I lived in condos that were built on along a beach prior to being married, about twenty years ago. The town had built a walkway running the length of the beach, and thousands of people walk, ride bikes, rollerblade and take their kids on it every day. Every day seemed like a vacation, living so close to the water. My commute to work was 15 minutes, which was all on back roads and along the water.
But not all our days were beachy keen while we lived there. We had a mentally ill lady that lived diagonally across the parking lot from us. We’d had several run ins with her over time, and each one was more scary than the previous one. The first time my husband met her, she called him over to her place and he was just being nice by talking to her. Once inside her doorway, she told him, “I know you! I heard your voice from the microwave!” He got freaked out, of course, and she continued on, saying “Now I have your fingerprints!” He quickly wiped the door handle and said, “NO, YOU DON’T!” and got out of there very quickly.
She’d swear at people walking on the board walk. She used to urinate in used milk jugs and leave them by the dumpster. Clearly, this woman was mentally ill and needed more help than she was getting.
One time we were leaving our condo, and she approached us, slamming her hands on the car. He responded to her angrily, which apparently set her off. When we came home, she had sprinkled laundry detergent around some trees, and then was trying to cut them down. One summer day, she slowly walked by me, banging a pot, while I was working outside preparing beginning school stuff. It scared me, of course.
It was unnerving knowing that someone so unpredictable lived nearby. After she moved, we had some young kids move into a condo on the other side of us who were racist and had wild parties. Needless to say, we weren’t too relaxed living there after a time.
With all the awareness of mental illness now, it is a shame that this woman didn’t have the right help to keep her symptoms under control. I know she had family, but I don’t know if or when they tried to help her. And sadly, my first instinct was not to provoke her, instead of trying to get to know her and maybe show her a little kindness that she wasn’t getting from people.
Living on the beach gave us some interesting memories, that is for sure. We became close friends with a couple who still live there today. And now when we go visit, we look forward to being with them and relaxing on their front porch, which overlooks the boardwalk, with the sand and water just steps away. Sometimes, we talk about those interesting days when we lived there, too. Someday, I’d like to move back near the beach. What could possibly go wrong?