Last week was intense: full-time grandma duty with our 20-month-old grandson sans parents, and largely sans Hubby who was immersed in teaching a new version of a security class, which meant prep time every evening after a full day of lecturing. I know now why we had our kids when we were young!
Sunday morning we parted ways, Mini-dude home with his mother, Hubby on a plane for an out-of-town teaching gig. I spent most of the day savoring the silence and putting the house back in a semblance of order. My reward was a glass of wine around the fire pit in our backyard as the sun set. A small gathering on the neighbor’s deck past the yew row chatted under tiki torches and unintentionally shared their classic blues with me.
I’d just poured a second glass (I told you – a reward!) when a voice hollered at me from over the fence at the front of the house. Our three dogs erupted at the intrusion and spilled the wine in my lap, down my arm, all over my phone…but that was the least of the issue.
Facing me over the fence was a uniformed police officer and a firefighter in full regalia. It seems a “concerned” someone had called in about “heavy smoke” from our residence – although the paltry smoke from my diminutive fire was not remotely heavy. I assured the officers it was simply a campfire. They insisted, politely, on seeing for themselves, so I corralled the dogs and led the men into the backyard. They took one quick look, said okay, sorry, we have to check all calls, etc., etc., and they were gone.
As was the modicum of serenity I’d almost managed to attain with my uncharacteristic session around the fire.
You see, I don’t do things for myself. I do for others. To go to the trouble of clearing the lawn chairs, building a fire, changing to appropriate clothing, and pouring a glass of wine – all for me – was way beyond my normal behavior. The officers’ appearance left me feeling like a naughty teenager caught out after curfew.
A random act…of kindness? of spite? of neighborly passive-aggressive protest?…doused more than just the flames in my fire pit. It will be a long time before I can build up the nerve to do anything special for me again. And while I realize that unintended consequence is my personal issue, it doesn’t make it any less real.
And that “concerned” someone will never know.