Like Alice in Wonderland I’ve slipped down the rabbit hole. Unlike Alice’s world where, “Cats and rabbits would reside in fancy little houses and be dressed in shoes and hats and trousers,” my world has been filled with “men in suits, driving four door sedans who emptied the contents of our garbage can into the trunk of their car.”
This is my world, the rabbit hole in the memoir I’m writing.
Writing this memoir is forcing me to think about every part of my life. Not just the good and happy things or the wonderful people I’m privileged to call my friends, but the bad times and the questions I should have asked… but didn’t. Even more important it’s made me wonder “why didn’t” I ask them? They were questions, begging to be examined, not trivial ones like” Do you like Mexican food?” Instead, I said nothing.
I’ve always known it’s not because I’m afraid to ask the hard questions or to hear the answers. Sometimes I don’t want to put the other person on the spot or make them feel bad because it wouldn’t be the kind thing to do.
Other times, however, I play it cool… I don’t need to “go there.”
That’s not to say I never ask the hard questions or know how to respond in a crisis, because I do… in spades. But every important unasked question—and I remember them all—has signaled the beginning of a pivotal time in my life. Regardless of whether I asked the question, 95 percent of the time I already knew the answer.
Much of my memoir takes place in my home of 35 years. The 6,400 square foot, three-story “Spy House on the Hill” as it was known.
You can’t tell from this picture, but it sat on 22 acres and overlooked all of San Antonio. It was the highest point in the city. The left-hand portion of the house with all the windows was my bedroom. The top floor with all the windows was my office.
A glimpse of the views of San Antonio. It was taken just outside my front door under the wrap around veranda. My dog, Phydaux, is standing on the stone wall next to the winding front steps. Each of the pyramids on either side of the driveway housed a low watt bulb. At night, when the city lights came alive, the lights inside the pyramids looked like diamonds suspended from a sparkling piece of jewelry.
In the following passage from my memoir you’ll notice I don’t ask the obvious question nor do I give you the answer. You’ll have to wait for that until the book is finished.
“I watch him through the binoculars from my bedroom window. A big burly weightlifter type wearing a short-sleeved polo shirt that looks two sizes too small for him. He set off the alarm inside the house when he ignored the “Private Property No Trespassing” sign and did a one-handed vault over the gate at the foot of our driveway. He made it look effortless like he’d jumped over one of those plastic, childproof safety gates that keeps puppies and children from falling down stairs or wandering into rooms that are off-limits. With long purposeful strides he hikes up the hill to the house, then takes the winding front steps two at a time.
When I open the front door there is no “Hi, my name is… “ He skips the niceties and gets straight to the point.
“I have it on good authority that whoever lives here needs a bodyguard,” he says. His voice is even and well-modulated with no hint of the implied threat he just delivered, and his eyes drill into mine like he has every right to be here.
In a tone as calm as his I look at him and say, “You must have the wrong house.” We both know I’m lying. For starters, there aren’t any other houses anywhere near where I live.
I close the door in his face and watch him retrace his steps down the hill. He turns his head for just a moment, until he sees me, standing in the window, watching him through the binoculars.”
Part of my bedroom before I pulled up the wall to wall carpeting and exposed the beautiful hardwood floors. There was always at least one pair of binoculars next to the sofa, and sometimes the large telescope in the living room was there as well. There were also lots of hidden safes. From here I can count three.
Do you ask the hard questions, or are you afraid of the answers? Or are you like me and sometimes decide not to “go there?” The pendulum can swing too far in either direction… being confrontational or sticking your head in the sand. Neither scenario is a good one. Like everything else in life, it’s all about finding balance.