chapter 15, april

Some say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result each time.  Others believe it refers to a mental illness or madness.  For me, insanity was a state of mind, or the state of my life in this case…

Much of my childhood was spent in chaos.  There seemed to be more family drama than the soap operas I watched with Mamaw and Granny after school.  I had survived my fair share of disappointment. However, nothing could have prepared me for the Hollywood movie scene I would be living during that time.  I preferred a very low-key existence.  I was rarely the center of attention, and I most definitely was not the type to enjoy the spotlight.  I was beginning to feel like my life was an episode of Punk’d.  I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out at any moment…sadly that never happened.

Once John and I believed that the text we read regarding the infamous BANG between Loren and Roy was in fact true, all bets were off.   

They seemed to find so much pleasure in John and me uncovering their secret rendezvous.  

John and I began spending as much time together as possible.  My feelings for him were growing stronger with each passing day.  My life had fallen apart, and he was the only one there helping me pick up the pieces.  He had proven time after time that he would always be there for me, no matter what. I was not brave enough to tell John how I felt.  It was a line we had not crossed, and I was unsure if we were truly ready to take that plunge.  He and I both knew it would only complicate things even more – if that was possible.  We also knew once we started, there was no turning back…it would only add fuel to the fire.  Was I ready to take our relationship to the next level?  No way!  I was terrified, and too old for the school-girl feelings I was having.  I didn’t even remember how to date.

Tensions were at an all-time high between everyone involved in our circus.  Once again, Loren and I were avoiding each other like the plague.  Even though we were not speaking, she had ways of letting me know that she still loathed me.  I went for a run one afternoon - jamming out to my 80s hair-band music, the pavement was my therapy.  I got lost in my thoughts when suddenly, I noticed a vehicle swerving in my direction.  After I recovered from a mild heart attack and collected my bearing, I turned to see the driver of the small, blue SUV give me one of her famous one-finger waves.  Ah, Loren and her neighborly love! 

Loren still hated me, even more so than she had before.  We hardly ever spoke to one another. The only time I heard from her was when she would text John asking him to slip me a message to remind me that she thought I was a homewrecker.  I am not sure why, but I never retaliated against her.  It probably had something to do with me feeling sorry for her.  I could relate; I had been in her shoes a time or three, and I knew that her anger was not a personal attack on me.  You see, anger is a secondary emotion, and hers was out of sadness that her marriage was ending.  At least that was my opinion.  

John tried to limit his interaction with her as well, only going to the home they once shared to spend time with their children.  He always let me know when he was on his way there and when he was leaving.  

Maybe it was too many Lifetime movies, but I was scared when he was over there.  I could remember the time that I was living in Loren’s shoes and quite often wanted to choke the life out of Jerry for what he had done to me.  I wondered if one day the pain would be too much for Loren to handle, and she would want to do the same to John.  

Perhaps I was a little bit jealous at the thought of the two of them being alone in the house right next door.  My insecurities began to get the best of me. I knew I could not compete with her, nor did I have the energy to attempt it. What if he realized that she was much more beautiful than I was?  What if they fell in love again?  Why did it even matter?  It is not like John and me were in a relationship.  We were JUST FRIENDS!

A few nights later while at the store, I received a call from my daughter.  Apparently, Loren and John were at it again.  Only this time, it seemed to be more escalated than usual.  

From the upstairs window, my daughter watched Loren run through our front yards, dressed in a gorgeous night gown.  Her destination appeared to be my front door.  

I rushed home and called John.  He assured me that everything was fine.  Once again, he begged me not to come over and confront Loren.  At that point, John was worried for me.  He told me that he had never seen this side of Loren, and he wanted me to be on high alert.  In my mind she was harmless, but I did not know her like he did.  Maybe she hated me just enough that she was willing to put an end to my days next door. 

The next day while John was visiting his children, I received a text warning me that Loren was on her way over to my house.  However, that text came seconds after she was already standing at my front door, yelling into my house.  I was in my bedroom folding laundry.  I heard the door open and a voice screamed, “If you want to talk to him just come on over!”  I had no idea what was happening, but I knew exactly who that voice belonged to.  She had screamed at me enough in the past few months, I recognized it quite well. 

John was on the phone outside, and Loren assumed he was talking to me.  This angered her, and in turn she lashed out at me.  What did she care anyway?  She had just ‘ended it with a bang’ with my husband.  I could not understand why she still had such a problem with my friendship with John.  I ran from the house after her, not my finest moment, but I was so angry and tired of defending myself against something I was not doing.  

By the time I got out front she was already inside her home.  From the fence, I could hear yelling.  I went out my back door and stood on the deck where I could see over into her yard.  She and John were exchanging unpleasantries on the patio.  

I hung my body over my two-story deck and screamed to the top of my lungs at Loren.  I advised her to never come near my house again, and to stop acting like a lunatic. 

We screamed back and forth at each other for a few moments, then Loren began to apologize.  Once she realized that John had not been on the phone with me, her demeanor changed.  During all the chaos, something Loren said that day made me think that just maybe, the two of us were not getting the same story.  

I met with John later that evening.  It was time for he and I to have a serious discussion, one that I was not looking forward to.  He confided in me that he had not been completely honest with Loren or me.  The most important thing in the world to him was the fact that he was a father.  He explained how much he loved his children and that he would do anything for them.  That is one of the things I admired most about him. 

He began to tell me that he had been dishonest with Loren because he could not stand the thought of losing his boys again.  He knew that the only way he could be with them every day, was if he agreed to work on his marriage with Loren.  I was relieved, saddened, angered, and disgusted.  Why did he feel that he could not be honest with us?  How could I solve this problem and make sure everyone was happy in the process?  It seemed that the only thing that could fix this dilemma was if someone would just wave the white flag - surrender, if you will.  There were two very strong-minded and stubborn women amid this chaos, and we were not the giving-up type.  However, this situation had become more than we all could handle.

I made a very hard decision, one that I regretted the minute the words left my lips.  I told John that our friendship was over.

Super Bowl Sunday is a time for beer, wings, and parties.  I was making guacamole, when my phone began to ring…it was Loren.  My first thought – do not answer the phone.  Sunday is the Lord’s day and He did not want me saying naughty words to this wicked woman!  Against my better judgement, I picked up the phone.  Kindness spilled from her mouth.  This was unusual, I thought to myself.  

It turned out that one of the boys was running a fever and she needed to take him to the emergency room.  She was unable to reach John, so she asked if the other two boys could stay with me while she went to the hospital.  Of course, I did not mind, and I was always happy to help.  When she returned that evening, we had a pleasant conversation.  Could this actually be happening?  Does she finally believe that I am not the enemy?  Maybe it would be short lived, but I was going to bask in this moment for as long as it lasted.  

It was half-time and I was enjoying the show, when I received a phone call from John.  He asked me to walk next door and see what Loren was doing.  He proceeded to tell me that they had been arguing back and forth via text for quite some time, and she had made some threats to him.  This is where I should have politely declined my front row ticket to the circus, but something he said intrigued me.  Apparently, Loren told John that if he did not come and get his things, that she was throwing them on the front lawn.  He asked me to go over and get them for him.

Now, we have all read about something like this, but I never imagined witnessing it in real-life.  As I walked out my front door, to my surprise, all of John’s personal belongings were in a teepee-shaped mound on the front lawn.  

What was even more shocking was the fact that I was certain there was smoke rising from the pile.  What kind of person would do such a thing?  Once again, I set off to battle.  I left the wine at home this time because, well, alcohol is flammable.  When I reached the bonfire that was John’s belongings, Loren was chain-smoking like it was her part-time job.  I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to have a bonfire with John’s things on the front lawn.  We did not necessarily live in that kind of neighborhood; that sort of behavior was certainly frowned upon.  I was sure the HOA would have a field day with this one!  Loren did not seem to care; in fact, she actually found humor in what she was doing.  

It was settled, this woman was ‘boil your bunny’ crazy, and I did not have the proper education, nor patience, to deal with her.   Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, she began putting cigarettes out on John’s uniforms, spitting in his shoes, and shattering his vintage memorabilia.  I was finally able to plead with her enough to allow me to take his things…after I stomped the flames out of them. 

John and I had been giving our best efforts to have no contact with each other.  Knowing that neither of us wanted to halt our friendship, it seemed to be what was best given our situation.  I agreed to meet him so he could retrieve his torched belongings.  

The moment our eyes locked, we both began to cry.  

He told me how miserable he had been thinking that he had lost his best friend.  I admitted that my feelings were much the same.  I had not realized how close we had become, until I no longer had him in my life.  It is true, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  We agreed to meet for dinner later that evening, after he went over to put the boys to bed.  However, that dinner never happened…

When John arrived at the house next door, Loren insisted that he stay with the boys so she could have a much-deserved night out.  Things escalated and ended with John sitting on the couch and Loren sitting on the front porch…ALL. NIGHT. LONG. 

I went over several times throughout the night.  Loren and I enjoyed a beer on the front lawn, shared a few laughs, and talked more about life.  She was a real person that night, vulnerable, strong, stubborn, and scared.   She just needed someone to understand what she was going through, and I did.  However, she did not believe my intentions were pure.  I begged her to come inside and told her she could stay with me, but she had a point to prove and stood firmly on her front lawn.  

The next morning, John called me in a panic, Loren had packed a bag and told him that she was leaving for Texas…with his boys in the backseat. 

He was devastated.  He begged me to help, but she did not want to hear from me.  John reached out to Loren’s family, and they seemed genuinely worried for her mental stability.  He was advised to let her go and she would get the help she desperately needed.

As the dust began to settle and the smoke to clear, this nightmare had sent one of us running into the arms of safety, and the other was pushed completely over the edge.


Burning Ring of Fire