IT’S OVER ……. IT BEGINS

Most of you know what’s been going on in my life, but for those who don’t, here’s the Revised Standard Version.

On December 7, 2007, I was slugged by a collegiate rugby player who didn’t like the idea that I wanted his mean, drunk ass out of my first sorority house at 1:30 in the morning. That moment changed my life.

I had been training for a marathon, and could no longer walk a block. My mind was foggy. I became emotionally bankrupt. Over the last five years, I’ve been held prisoner by a workers compensation system that’s about as functional as our Congress.

It was impossible to take a job out of California or even leave for an extended period of time because there might be a hearing and I’d have to be in northern California on a moment’s notice. On my “world tour,” I couldn’t go farther than Oklahoma because we were expecting a settlement by the end of August and I might have to get back.

During that five years I didn’t receive one day of physical therapy, but I couldn’t get my own medical treatment because they could say it countermanded their treatment, and I’ve been terrified to exercise for fear of reinjuring already demolished areas of my body. That’s enough. You get the idea. Pete Thatcher tells me I’m on a pity party, but that’s not the case. Given the choice of confronting that entitled punk to keep him from throwing my girls around like ragdolls or hiding in my apartment, I would make the same choice. And as far as pity party, I think I’ve handled this situation and everything it’s thrown at me about as well as anyone else could.

But that was then, and this is now.

1/3/13 Was NOT an unlucky day for me.

My attorney called on December 23 to tell me we had a settlement offer. About three years ago, I came up with a number, and their initial offer was higher. Not a hell-of-a-lot higher, but enough that rather than go to a hearing on February 12, and hope for a settlement then. If that didn’t happen, we would have had to set a court date and this thing would have gone on even longer. I agreed to the initial offer. Period. End of story.

He was leaving for the holidays and would be back the 2nd, but would keep checking his e-mails and work with opposing counsel to get the thing finalized by the end of the year.  That came and went, and I heard nothing.  On January 2, I e-mailed him and asked if we had heard anything; found that he hadn’t, and figured they were just playing us to see how low we’d go. Called Abbi and told her I was ready to go to the hearing, and call their bluff, but……

Yesterday at 8:30am, earlier than Jeff is usually in the office, he called to say he had settlement papers in his hand. Long story short (I know, too late),

Five years

Seven Days

Seventeen Hours

and Two Minutes after Ross Kilroy slugged me, I faxed my signed and witnessed paperwork back to Jeff. It is over.

I guess the process from here is that my attorney adds his signature, sends the paperwork to their attorney, then the papers go somewhere back east, and if there are no glitches (it is the government, after all, and if NASCAR didn’t get enough money, I may have to pony up something), a check will come from somewhere else.  They have 30 days to get that check to me. So, by February 5th, if I don’t have two checks in my hand (one for settlement, one for future medical), they owe me another 10%.

It was what happened after that fax left that hit me. What now? I’ve waited five long years for this moment. What now? My mind went blank.

I went to see “Jack Reacher,” based on One Shot by Lee Child (and if you haven’t discovered Lee Child yet, you need to quickly). Ate popcorn. Let my mind go blank. When the movie was over, I went back to the car, put the top down, and called Laurel.

Laurel and I met at a house directors’ meeting in Seattle about six months after my assault. She was taking a house at USC, and so was I. Within a couple of months, we were on the same campus and getting together whenever possible. It was like we’d known each other forever. Of everyone I know, she’s been with me throughout the whole process. It was Laurel who allowed me to live in her lovely condo in Vegas from March through May.

She picked up the phone, I said, “It’s over,” and started crying. In the last two years, I had cried exactly two times: when Hollywood died, and when Baby Kitty died. I’ve worked so hard at keeping it together and staying strong, that I’ve lost the ability to feel, and yesterday, for a brief few minutes it came back. It’s a start. Not that I’m going to go out looking for reasons to cry, but it felt good to know it could happen again.

Over the years, I’ve become a recluse. Two summers ago I tried to have my “coming out” party with the CHS Beach Babes, but that didn’t turn out well. First, I signed up because I wanted to get to know Lynn Crislip better (a newly-found sorority sister), and see both Lynn Tincher and Margi Moses, who had attended the first get-together. What I got was a house full of women I didn’t know.

I’m not the same person who left Charleston, WV in ’69. I’ve lived all over the world, experienced different cultures and have a different perspective that those who have been married to the same man since right after high school graduation or who have stayed in Charleston or moved to South Carolina and live close enough  that they socialize on a regular basis. Until Facebook, I hadn’t talked to anyone from CHS since I skipped town. Forty years. I was kicked off the island and not invited back. And that’s OK. But the trip didn’t accomplish the anticipated goal, which was to get me out of the house and — well — get a life.

My NorCal friends are now more like acquaintances — I mean, it’s been four years since I’ve been to a Sisters in Crime meeting or hung out at Book Passage. And I haven’t lived anywhere long enough since then to get close to anyone. Not like before — I used to always have a bunch of friends I could call to meet for drinks, or go to a movie or just hang out. I need that again.

And writing. I haven’t written anything new for at least a year. My hands hit the keyboard, and my mind works for awhile, but a couple of chapters later, I’m blank. I can see who the characters are, know where the scenes are supposed to go, and even see the ending. But I can’t get there. Have three projects and God only knows how many short stories started, but…….

Adventure? I was the gutsy gal who, at 20, threw everything she owned into a Fiat 850 Spyder with $300 in her checking account and started over in Columbus, Ohio. Who swam out into the ocean until she couldn’t see land and let the waves pull her back in. My one attempt at getting that back was zip lining at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, which should have been thrilling. It’s the longest, steepest zip line in the country – 2/3 of a mile, and you get up to 60 mph flying on a piece of wire.  I didn’t feel a thing. Again, no affect. God, I want to feel again.

Dating? If you read my book, you’ll understand why that hasn’t happened. First of all, I haven’t met anyone interesting, and second, my one attempt was so hysterical that when Peggy read it she laughed so loud it woke me up. I used to be a really interesting person. Now, I have to find that person again. The one whose emphasis isn’t on survival or fighting with a system that makes no sense. I want to meet my Sigma Nu.

And here we are ….. 5:15pm on January 4. This has taken all day to write.

Woke up this morning, made a couple of phone calls, laid back down with Sophie, and didn’t get out of bed (or, mattress & sleeping bag…but that’s about to change) until after 3pm.

It feels like the weight of the world is off my shoulders, even though the settlement monies aren’t here yet. I can breathe.

I’m so happy in my mini-house-mom job in Fullerton. Granted, it’s part-time. But the board is supportive, the girls are thrilled to have someone who cares that their needs are met, and things are slowly getting done. I won’t be leaving, assuming they want me to stay, for a very long time. They understand that I write. They have no problem with me being gone a couple of days for a book signing….or to just get away…and I may do just that. I feel the ocean calling for me and it might be a good idea to spend a couple of days at the beach.

The rest? Laurel suggested taking some time to decompress. And take baby steps. That makes sense. Wouldn’t know how to jump into a new life anyway.

Know I want to go mining for gems in North Carolina. Know I want to take a “world tour” where there are no restrictions, and may take some time this summer to do just that. There’s a lot of world I haven’t seen yet, and I hear Delta’s ready when I am.

I know one thing. I’ve set a goal for something I want to do on my one-year anniversary next January 3. I’ve only shared that with Laurel; Abbi knows about it, but not a goal date.

But today starts my Year Without Fear. Steps I take may seem miniscule to you, but they’ll be monumental to me. And I’m inviting you to join me on this new leg of my life. During that year, my goal is to step out of my (dis)comfort zones and take some chances. Turn my life into an adventure again. Make Abbi as proud of me as I am of her. And make up for lost time.

So, don’t be surprised if I call you someday and say, “Why don’t we_____________?”

Blogs will be more frequent, because I’m including you in my life. Wherever it leads. And I hope you’ll laugh, cry, and maybe even gasp with me along the way.

Today’s first step was putting my life …. and my heart ….out there for the world to see. That in itself is a risk, but that’s part of the gameplan. So we’ll see what tomorrow brings.  Heck, I may even get my hair cut.

Until next time, take care of yourself. Love freely. Call a friend and appreciate you have someone who wants to walk around a mall or share a drink with you. Walk up to a veteran and thank them for their service. Volunteer with an organization that needs you. Mentor a kid. Dance like no one is watching. And be careful out there. I need you. And maybe, just a little bit, you’ll need me.