Goodbye, Home
Goodbye, Neighbors From Hell

by Liz Miller

Last week, I drove down my road, pulled into my house, frantically (and unsuccessfully) tried to reach my husband, turned around and left. When I walked into the bait shop, a few miles away, I grabbed a six pack and tried desperately to hide the fact that my speech was racing as fast as my heart. Made my purchase. I got back in the car and nausea set in, and a headache and then the tears. I finally reached my husband, who was sympathetic. I texted my best friend, who offered help but ultimately knows I respond to ( and she best delivers) 'tough love'. I went back to the house, seeing the 500 linear feet of boulders I passed- that had recently been moved- in a different way. I sat on my porch, had two beers and thought. The dysfunction, I was all too familiar with, tried to set in, but this time I was armed with knowledge of the fact that we have saved our lives, we have found another home and we will NEVER have to drive down this road and pull into this house again. I left 4 beers hot; And got to packing.

On August 5th, this coming Tuesday, our house will be foreclosed. Three years ago, when we bought it, I could have never imagined I would type that statement. I would have felt shameful for just thinking that. 'Who doesn't pay their bills?, 'Who would walk away from obligation, commitment?', 'Who would drive a little 6 yr. old around looking at lake houses for a year, just to move their 9 yr. old three years later?', 'Who would do such a thing?'. I have learned at least one answer is 'Someone who wanted to save their family, salvage what's left of their son's childhood...someone who lived next to a neighbor from hell'.

Our neighbor's contractors introduced themselves, to our son, with a backhoe two days after we closed. Our neighbors formally introduced themselves, a few days later, with hundreds of feet of orange spray paint. They painted a 140 ft. line down the street, marked our brand new survey stakes and a couple hundred feet of the lakebed in front of both of our properties, to show us our 'half ' ( their words ). Um? That was week 1.

A few months later, the neighbors dug up the ENTIRE city road...our road, the road to our home, the only way to our home, for a fourth driveway to their property ( which can be accessed by two roads...the other being paved). We drove in slop for months. Our road was mud. The 'City' sent our neighbors a letter. Letters don't fix mud.

Over the last three years our neighbors have approached two cities, a county, and the federal government with sob stories, attorneys, proposals, false documentation and threats to get a 500 foot bulkhead and free property. They have filled in a lake, claimed public property as their own and made their presence known (and feared), with the operation of heavy equipment in front of our house, to where it was no longer comfortable, or felt safe, to be outside. They are currently building a 5000+ sq. ft. house, which leads me to believe they believe they were successful. I am thankful this is one of the last times I ever need to consider their beliefs.

I have watched my son...this gift, this amazing, crazy, fearless, creative, enchanting gift... trade compassion for hate, curiosity for fear, swings and swimming for DVR, trust for sarcasm and life for death. I never thought I would have a suicidal 8 year old; But then again, I never thought I would have a neighbor from hell.

I will go back to my house one more time. I'll drive down the road that was destroyed, that leads to the piles of concrete and debris the city dumped on our fence line in a passive aggressive effort of retaliation for knowing and standing up for our rights, and the neighbors boulders moved to the exact same place I was assaulted. I'll undoubtedly hear the sound of a backhoe or a trackhoe or a I have, constantly, for the last 3 years. I'll pull into the drive that my councilman says was never mine, then close the gate. I'll enter our beautiful 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house through the sunroom, like I always wanted to do. I'll roll my eyes at that wretched breakfast bar where I sat looking up laws and plats and surveys and regulations and contact numbers. That wretched breakfast bar where I wrote countless letters begging someone to help, telling and re-telling the same story to attorney after attorney after attorney. That wretched breakfast bar where I organized documentation, uploaded documentation, reviewed documentation and cursed documentation. That wretched breakfast bar where I googled 'Autism and extreme stress and children and suicidal'. Then I'll likely start looking for those last four hot beers. I'll leave out the side door, like I always wanted to do. I'll walk to the live oak and say a final goodbye to the pets we lost. Then I will get in my car, pick up my son from one of the few friends I have left. We'll stop for ice cream and then we'll go home. It's just a simple 2 bedroom trailer but it's on a safe, happy road, with a safe happy yard. We finally have a Home... that's filled with a family who is learning how to feel safe and happy again.

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