I heard a light knock on my door. In that brief moment as I’m opening the door, I think maybe it’s our neighbor’s 5-year-old son who regularly knocks asking to come in. I’m not really sure why he does this, especially when 9 times out of 10 I tell him “No” because I’m usually busy doing something or just not up for company; but that was my first thought.
My next thought was “It’s after dark, though. He usually doesn’t knock after dark. Also, I’m pretty sure I heard my neighbors leave earlier; and I didn’t hear their vehicle return. I didn’t hear any car drive up.”
When I opened the door, I found a stranger standing there asking about the property, is there anything available for rent. He told me he grew up around here, close-by, and is familiar with this property. I felt slightly discombobulated and without thinking, my friendliness kicked in and invited him inside to get out of the cold outdoor temperatures. We talked for a few minutes about the trailer next door that is available. He asked for our landlord’s phone number. As I was writing it down for him, he thanked me for taking the time to speak with him and inviting him in, given that most people nowadays wouldn’t even consider doing such a thing with the way the world is.
As he said this, I felt a sudden surge of panic, thoughts flooding my mind in quick succession, “Why did I invite him in? I didn’t think twice about it. I just invited him in. He’s right. This world is nuts right now. I have a complete stranger standing in my living room. I’m at home alone. My neighbors aren’t even home.” I think I even paused as I was writing as I couldn’t speak (more like stutter), think, and write all at the same time.
I maintained the same stoic flatness of emotion that I often do when confronted with panic in order to not make a fool out of myself in front of a stranger who was just looking for a place to rent. I calmed my nerves with the mantra, “He’s just looking for a home.” After I wrote down the landlord’s phone number for him, I asked if he would like to see the inside of the available trailer. I took him over with a flashlight to show him around. I learned that he is a 39-year-old Marine vet. I pointed out some areas of the trailer that still need work, but he seemed genuinely interested in renting it. He thanked me again before he left.
The encounter was brief, no more than 10 or 15 minutes. He was perfectly polite, friendly, and well-mannered. I keep telling myself that there is no reason for me to be feeling so much panic and anxiety over this, but my brain keeps reliving so many past incidents that worry is attempting to take control. I think I’ve become too comfortable in my new surroundings. Rational and irrational are butting heads. One part of me complains that not seeing the good in people causes as much suffering as seeing only the bad. Another part screams, “You’re far too trusting, still to this day!” Others are accosting, attacking my sense of self.
All I can really do in moments like this is allow these conversations, often times shouting matches, to play out, challenging where I can, accepting where I cannot. Basically, this one is about fear — whether it’s a real threat or simply a perceived threat. I acknowledge this fear, that I’m scared of being hurt, of being robbed, of being whatever. The fact of the matter is, though: I have no justifiable reason to believe that this man meant me any harm whatsoever. He was just looking for a home.