Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Probably definitely not broken, but still a wimp. And nothing ever happens in my neighborhood. Sort of.

OK, I can say with relative certainty that I have NOT broken my hand. It feels much better today.

But last night I could barely drive home. Two practices down, and after each of them I almost had to call a cab. The first time, my legs were so sore I was having trouble pressing down on the clutch. And my arms were shaking so hard that steering was a challenge. (Aren't you impressed? I know, I am the roller derby QUEEN !)

Last night, I couldn't actually close my left hand around the steering wheel. So I drove home using this interesting combination of knees, elbows, and my right hand, bypassing the drive-thru for my customary "when I'm in town" iced tea because I could not for the life of me figure out how a Big Gulp was going to work into my repertoire.

However, now I am fine, and will be getting my extra-large iced tea today thankyouverymuch. And I am working on growing some cajones so that they don't boot me off the team for being a total baby.

Now, about my neighborhood.

Yes, I live on Maui. No, I do not live on the beach. I am, in fact, miles from the beach, high on the mountain. My neighborhood is small and non-descript. Just houses and cul de sacs, families and newlyweds and retirees all living in harmony. Most of the time. Hawaii has a pretty serious drug problem - Ice, mostly. We have been fairly sheltered from it in our small close-knit neighborhoods, but still. It is pervasive and destructive, and affects everyone. Everyone on island has a friend or relative or neighbor (using the 6 degrees of seperation algorithm) who has fallen prey to drugs. Meth, Ice, Crack,'s a small island, and the problems appear magnified because they do truly touch all of us in some way.

And last night, we had drama. I'll start from the beginning, so you get the gist of the situation. The house across the street has a downstairs apartment, and that apartment has had a series of very odd tenants. The most recent resident was a single mom and her 3 kids. My children were thrilled - New Friends ! Across the street ! FUN !!!!!!!! Except, not so much. The kids seemed to be, well....(sigh) let's say "unsupervised". Their mother appeared to be having some......issues. She was almost always inside, with the blinds closed. They moved in to the apartment during the night, beginning at 11 pm, bringing load after load of plastic grocery bags into the apartment from their car, which was missing it's muffler and several windows. I am certainly in no position to judge someone's parenting, but things were not right over there. She didn't work, or leave the house. I never saw her doing much of anything, actually. The kids weren't going to school regularly. They didn't seem to be eating regularly. They were dirty, frequently playing in the street - in their pajamas. They didn't appear to have a bed time. It just seemed strange. Really odd. But I didn't say anything. I never interacted with the mother, and the kids were welcome at our house anytime (within reason).

And then, while we were away this winter, right after New Years, Child Protective Services came and took the kids. It was, to be honest, a huge relief. I saw the children a few weeks later - they were clean, well dressed, living across the street from the school, able to play on the playground and walk themselves to class. They were with a family, they had been given haircuts, they had shoes on their feet and food in their belly. They had been rescued, in every sense of the word. I felt guilty for not reporting the strange behavior sooner, but I had never witnessed abuse and there is no law against playing in the street in your pajamas or homeschooling - all of those things happen here at our house too. But it was, truly, more then that. My mommy gut was telling me something was not right across the street. However, with the kids relocated, and the mom meeting with social services, I hoped for the best. Maybe this would be her wake-up call. Maybe she would be able to get clean, get a job, get her life back. But eventually, the social workers stopped visiting, and she stopped coming outside. She reverted back to the neighbor who moved in during the night. Nocturnal, unpredictable, shuffling around with her head down, half dressed, talking to herself. It was just so......sad. How do you help someone who doesn't want help? Who does not do everything in her power to get custody of her kids back? Who cannot stop using, cannot make it better, cannot help herself?

And then last night she was evicted from the apartment . It started with the sheriff arriving at about 5pm with his deputy. I left for practice at 5:20 and they were sitting, waiting for her to come back to the apartment so they could serve her with notice. Before I left, we brought the kids inside, locked up the dogs, and closed the curtains - not sure how this was going to play out.

When I returned home 3 hours later, 2 police cars were pulling out of our dead-end street, and I knew exactly where they were coming from. However, the car in front of me - the one driving INTO the neighborhood - belonged to this woman. The cops hadn't even left the neighborhood, and she was back.


She didn't stay for long, we all gathered in our front yards and on our porches, watching with our arms crossed, not saying a word, but no longer willing to look the other way. Some people are not able to hold their lives together, and I can only imagine how difficult her day to day existance is, to have lost custody of her children, to have let her life spiral to such a dark and terrible place. But we cannot allow her decisions to affect the safety and sanctity of my home and neighborhood. As she drove away, she was screaming and cursing, and waving her middle finger out the window. We just watched, silent and sad.

This morning our neighborhood is sunny and peaceful. Drama-free for now. But every time I look across the street, I wonder who will be moving in next.

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